What to do if a condom splits?

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Condoms are a method of contraception and the only way of protecting against sexually transmitted diseases or infections. However, they can tear during sex. What should you do if a condom splits and what protection do you need? Don’t panic - follow our advice!
Condoms are a method of contraception and the only way of protecting against sexually transmitted diseases or infections. However, they can tear during sex. What should you do if a condom splits and what protection do you need? Don’t panic - follow our advice!

What are the risks?
If your condom splits, even before ejaculation, sex is not considered to be safe. The liquid secreted during foreplay contains sperm and contaminating germs, so the risk of pregnancy and STDs is very real.
What to do
- To limit the risks of STDs:
Avoid using products to clean your vagina: warm water is enough. Washing cannot prevent you from catching STDs but it can limit the risks. If blood, sperm or vaginal liquid enters into contact with an open cut, disinfect it with alcohol or betadine. If there is a risk of contamination, go to a clinic or doctor for testing and/or treatment. You should also get tested for HIV during the 2 weeks following the incident. Do the test again after 3 months to be 100% sure you haven’t caught the AIDS virus.
- To prevent pregnancy:
If you want to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, you don’t have a choice: you need to take the morning after pill (up to 72 hours after sex, but if possible within 12 hours so that it will be more effective). The morning after pill is emergency contraception and is available in chemists without prescription. It is free for minors from a GP or family planning clinic.
To help prevent condoms splitting
- Don’t use your teeth, scissors or sharp objects to open the packet.
- Be careful with your fingernails when unrolling and putting on the condom.
- When unrolling the condom onto his penis, squeeze the tip to get rid of air bubbles which can cause it to burst.
- Use a water-based lubricant on the condom. This helps prevent tearing.
- Choose the right size condom. If it’s too big, it's more likely to split.
Published by Sarah Horrocks
15 May 2008

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