Condom slippage and breakage rates

Fam Plann Perspect. 1992 Jan-Feb;24(1):20-3.


A prospective study using two brands of condoms found that of 405 condoms used for intercourse, 7.9% either broke during intercourse or withdrawal or slipped off during intercourse; none of these events were related to condom brand, past condom use or use of additional lubricant. Of the remaining condoms, 7.2% slipped off during withdrawal; slippage was not related to condom brand or past use of condoms, but it was significantly higher when additional lubricant was used.

PIP: The use of the Pleasure Plus condom was compared with Trojan-Enz to determine the breakage and slippage during use by US couples. Factors associated with slippage and breakage are discussed. The comparison indicated that thicker than currently available condoms (standards) were considered more comfortable. The prospective study involved complete data from 68 couples recruited from the Emory University Family Planning Program of which 79% were black, 18% non-hispanic white, and 3% native American or White Hispanic. The woman's mean age was 34.4 years. 25% were 30.3 years and 25% were 39.0 years. Male partner's mean age was 37.7 years, with similar proportions 30 and 42 years. 65% were circumcised males. 26% had not used a condom in the year preceding the study. 21% had never used a condom in their relationship. Among users, average use in the preceding month was 5.8 condoms and in the preceding year, 21.1 condoms. Among condom users, the average breakage rate was 3.1%/couple in the preceding month and 4.7% in the preceding year. These breakage rates were higher than reported rates in the US. Couples were asked to use 3 experimental and 3 standard condoms within a 4-week period. The results of the use of 203 experimental condoms showed that 3 broke during intercourse or withdrawal and 4 broke after the use of 202 standard condoms. Of the 405 condoms used, breakage reported was 1.7% with no significant differences between the 2 types. Those inexperienced had the highest breakage rate of 2 out of 84 condoms (2.4%). Previous users had 1.6% breakage rates. Of the experienced users, those who had reported condom breaks prior to the study experienced higher rates of breakage (2.8%) vs. those who did not (.9%), but the difference was not statistically significant. Slippage was 6.4% for the experimental and 5.9% for the standard condoms. Of those experimental condoms not breaking or falling off during intercourse, 6.4% slipped during withdrawal. Sensitivity ratings for women were 6.7% for the experimental condoms and 5.7% for the standards compared with the male sensitivity ratings of 6.1% and 5.1%, respectively. Ratings were lower among circumcised men. Women rated the experimental condoms at 6.9 and 5.6 for the standards on the average, while men rated them at 6.4 and 5.1, respectively. Some preferred the blue color. It is pointed out that the 14.6% slippage and breakage rate for both condoms is high and creates risk. These method failure and user failure rates are higher than in reported studies. An explanation for the high rates may be lack of user seriousness in the study, or poor wording of questions, and imperfect use with oil-based lubricants. Condom efficacy studies are a high priority given the AIDs and sexually transmitted disease prevention efforts.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Contraceptive Devices, Male*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged