Why do condoms break or slip off in use? An exploratory study

Int J STD AIDS. 1995 Jan-Feb;6(1):11-8. doi: 10.1177/095646249500600104.


Men attending 3 sexually transmissible disease clinics and a university health clinic in Sydney, Australia, were invited to complete a questionnaire on their use of condoms. Respondents were 108 male condom user volunteers aged 18 to 62 years; in the last five years 47 had had sex with men, 18 with both men and women and 43 only with women. They reported using a total of 4809 condoms in the previous 12 months (condoms worn by a male partner were not included). The overall breakage rate was 4.9% (including condoms breaking during application), while 3.1% of condoms reportedly slipped off. On a multivariate analysis, condom breakage correlated with: (1) male sexual partner(s), (2) infrequent condom use, (3) rolling the condom on as per conventional instructions (modified application methods appeared protective) and (4) having trouble with condoms partially slipping. Factors associated with condoms slipping off were (1) young age, (2) being circumcised, (3) having less life-time condom experience, (4) rolling the condom on conventionally, and (5) having trouble with condoms partially slipping. Few men used inappropriate lubricants and no association between lubricant type and breakage was found. Though common among our respondents, negative attitudes towards condoms, loss of erection during condom application or use, finding condoms uncomfortable, and prolonged sexual intercourse were not related to success in use. Almost half (49%) of the men reported having deliberately removed a condom after the beginning of intercourse; 17% had done so 3 or more times. Counselling protocols should acknowledge the complexity of condom use.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Condoms*
  • Equipment Failure
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires