Could a condom fail even if it is unbroken?

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Could a condom fail even if it is unbroken?

Unread post by Gio »

I have a question regarding condoms.
I am very diligent about trying to use them perfectly every time and so far they have worked great for me!
I understand that if a condom breaks, there is a risk (and if they break, it's very noticeable). Also that a tiny hole is very rare (I still fill them with water afterwards just to be 100% sure).

I was wondering though if, even if unbroken, there could be a risk of pregnancy if the semen leaks.
I have masturbated with a condom on, just to observe where semen goes and I'm scared to see that not all of it stays at the tip, some goes below the shaft and even a bit on the sides of the penis (inside the condom).
I have done this test a few times and never observed semen reaching the base of the condom (the ring) or getting out of it, but just seeing it go down on the interior side of the condom is quite scary, and I wonder if during a sexual intercourse where there is more movement it could reach the bottom and/or leak out.

I'm pretty sure I'm using the correct size because I have measured my girth to be sure I buy the correct width (and it's a reputable brand, Durex).

Is this normal?
Is there a risk of pregnancy?
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Re: Could a condom fail even if it is unbroken?

Unread post by Elise »

Hi there Gio, and thank you for your question. Condoms are designed and proven to be very effective birth control (98% effective in one year of perfect use; 86% effective in one year of typical use (which just means sometimes people don't use the method exactly according to instructions, or all the time they have sex)) and STI protection, and this includes why they cover the entire penis. You can see they are working effectively by keeping the semen inside the condom, and not on the outside, even when friction moves it around.

The most common causes of condom failure are due to breakage, slippage (for instance by not holding the base when withdrawing). These are due to friction, so one of the important things to do is make sure that the condom is the right size (ring not too loose), which it sounds like you are doing, use a lubricant to reduce friction, and withdraw whilst holding the base (ring) whilst you withdraw your penis. You can read more about this in these articles: Hopefully this helps put your mind at ease. The other thing you can consider is using two forms of birth control with your sexual partner(s) in the future. We at Scarleteen are big fans of this method, as it significantly reduces the risk of STIs for folks even further, you can read more about this here: The Buddy System: Effectiveness Rates for Backing Up Your Birth Control With a Second Method
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