Does penis size influence condom slippage and breakage?

Int J STD AIDS. 1998 Aug;9(8):444-7. doi: 10.1258/0956462981922593.


This study examined the effect of penis dimensions on the probability of complete condom slippage and condom breakage in actual use. Men were recruited through advertising, used the condoms supplied and completed a diary sheet for each condom used. A total of 3658 condoms were used by 184 men of which 1.34% broke and 2.05% slipped off. No significant effect was demonstrated for penile dimensions on the probability of complete condom slippage. However, condom breakage was strongly associated with penile circumference. These findings suggest that condom manufacturers may need to increase the range of condom sizes available, or some aspects of their performance, in order to ensure that condoms meet the needs of all men without unduly exposing them to risk.

PIP: Anecdotal reports suggest large penis size may be associated with condom breakage, while small penis size increases the risk of condom slippage. The effect of penis dimensions on the likelihood of both these events was investigated in 184 male volunteers recruited through advertisements and posters in Victoria, Australia. Each participant was provided with 12 condoms at a time and instructed to complete a diary sheet for each condom. According to self-measurements, men had a mean total penis length of 15.71 cm and a mean basal circumference of 13.19 cm. Of the 3658 condoms used by these men, 49 (1.34%) broke and 73 (2.05%) slipped. 30 men (16.3%) experienced at least one instance of breakage and 35 (19.0%) experienced complete slippage. There was no evidence for an effect of penis length or circumference on condom slippage. Condom breakage, on the other hand, was strongly associated with penis circumference. Each additional centimeter of penile circumference increased the risk of condom breakage by 50-100%. This finding suggests a need to increase either the range of condom sizes available or the lateral extension of currently available condoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Condoms*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Penis / anatomy & histology*