How common is Condom Breakage and Slippage?

This section contains information on condom breakage and slippage. Research in this section covers condom slippage and breakage rates, as well as factors that affect condom breakage and slippage.

Workshop Summary: Scientific Evidence on Condom Effectiveness for Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention Partners
Source: Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Description: Published in 2001, this report presents the findings of a workshop to evaluate the effectiveness of latex male condoms in preventing STDs including HIV. The effort was led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in association with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The workshop summary contains a detailed analysis of breakage and slippage rates.

Key Statistics:

The latex male condom accounts for 97% of all United States condom sales.
Condom shape, thickness, and other specifications, including the latex formulation itself, have been engineered to produce a product that is placed easily (onto the penis), minimizes slippage and breakage during vaginal intercourse, and contains the collected fluids.
The combined method failure (slippage plus breakage) of condoms is estimated at 1.6% –3.6%.
Factors affecting slippage and breakage are related to user familiarity and knowledge, including user experience, selection of condom size (width), and proper use of additional (exogenous) lubricant.
As condom experience and facility in use of condoms increases in couples using condoms as their primary method of birth control, unintended pregnancies decrease.
With increased education and improved experience, one can expect condom slippage and breakage rates to decrease.
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Young Men’s Experience with Condom Breakage
Source: Laura Duberstein Lindberg, et al, “Young Men’s Experience with Condom Breakage,” Family Planning Perspectives 29.3 (May/June 1997).

Description: This article contains the results of a study to determine what factors affect condom breakage in males ages 17–22. Variables in the study include experience with condoms, amount of sexuality education, history of STDs, and household income.

Key Statistics:

Increased experience with condoms reduced the likelihood of experiencing condom breakage.
Recent sexuality education was associated with an almost 80% decrease in the risk of breakage among young men who used condoms infrequently.
Young males who had ever had a sexually transmitted disease (STD), or whose sexual partner had had an STD, were almost three times as likely as other respondents to have experienced condom breakage.
Young males with a household income of less than $60,000 were 2–3 times as likely to have broken a condom as were those with a higher household income.
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Male Condoms
Source: R. A. Hatcher, et al., Contraceptive Technology, 17th revised Edition (New York: Ardent Media, Inc., 1998).

Description: This article contains all of the basic information about male condoms as a method of contraception that health care practitioners, educators, and users will need

Key Statistics:

Although people fear that condoms may break or fall off during use, studies indicate this rarely occurs when condoms are properly used.
Most studies report that condoms break less than 2% of the time during intercourse or withdrawal.
It is also important to note that not all condom breaks are equally risky. As many as 24 to 65% occur before intercourse and pose no biological risk of pregnancy or infection if a new condom is used for intercourse.
Condoms fall off the penis in 0.6% to 5.4% acts of vaginal intercourse and may slip down the penis without falling off in 3.4% to 13.1% of acts of vaginal intercourse.
Breakage rates during anal sex for gay men in four prospective studies ranged from 0.5% to 12%, with rates less than 2% in three of the studies.
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