Background: Significantly more research attention has been devoted to the consistency of condom use, with far fewer studies investigating condom use errors and problems. The purpose of this review was to present the frequency of various condom use errors and problems reported worldwide.
Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted for peer-reviewed articles, published in English-language journals between 1995 and 2011.
Results: Fifty articles representing 14 countries met criteria for inclusion. The most common errors included not using condoms throughout sex, not leaving space at the tip, not squeezing air from the tip, putting the condom on upside down, not using water-based lubricants and incorrect withdrawal. Frequent problems included breakage, slippage, leakage, condom-associated erection problems, and difficulties with fit and feel. Prevalence estimates showed great variation across studies. Prevalence varied as a function of the population studied and the period assessed.
Conclusion: Condom use errors and problems are common worldwide, occurring across a wide spectrum of populations. Although breakage and slippage were most commonly investigated, the prevalence of other condom use errors and problems found in this review were substantially higher. As a framework for understanding the role of condom errors and problems in inadequate protection, we put forward a new model: the Condom Use Experience model. This model can be used to generate testable hypotheses for future research. Addressing condom use errors and problems in research and interventions is crucial to closing the gap between the perfect use and typical use of condoms.