What To Do If A Condom Breaks

by Teresa Newsome

So you thought you did everything right, only to wind up in a heap of panic on your bed, staring down the barrel of a broken condom. It happens — although maybe not as often as you might think. According to EmpowHER, less than five percent of condoms break, so don't lose trust in them just yet. Most of the time, they break because we use them wrong. Getting too rough with the package (like by using your teeth to open it), not leaving room at the tip (semen can travel 28 mph!), and/or using oil-based lubricants (like petroleum jelly) can all contribute to condom failure. But it doesn't matter in the moment why or how often condoms fail. All that matters is that yours did, and you need a plan that doesn't take nine months.

Take a deep breath. Modern science has your back. You may have everything you need right at home to prevent pregnancy. If not, there are several ways to get what you need, such as obtaining emergency contraception or having an IUD implanted at your doctor's office. And if you're not comfortable with the idea of abortion, no worries. The morning-after pill, as emergency contraception is often called, is not the same as the abortion pill. Emergency contraception will only prevent pregnancy; it won't end one.

1. Act Super Fast

Time is not on your side. There are a few interesting factors at play that affect the amount of time you have to work with. First, unless you've recently been tested, you probably don't know if you're ovulating. If you are, that means you have an egg waiting to join with sperm to make a baby. But even if you're not, semen can live in your body for days, waiting for the egg. Creepy, right? Emergency contraception can work up to 120 hours after the condom breaks, but the sooner you take it, the more effective it is. So go, Speed Racer, go!

2. Check Your Birth Control

If you're taking hormonal birth control, you might be all set. There are a lot of brands that you can use as emergency contraception. Check this chart, which lists the types of oral contraceptives that can can be used in an emergency. Follow the directions, which usually include taking a specific number of pills, then taking a second dose 12 hours later.

3. Go To The Pharmacy Or Order Online

If you don't have any birth control pills on hand, you'll need to get your hands on some emergency contraceptives. Luckily for you, they are now an over-the-counter option. You can purchase Plan B from Amazon, ask for emergency contraception at your pharmacy counter, or consult a site like While ordering the morning-after pill online is convenient, remember that you have to factor shipping time into your decision.

4. Get To Planned Parenthood

This link will help you locate the closest Planned Parenthood clinic. Sometimes, pharmacies don't keep emergency contraceptives in stock, but PP pretty much always has it on hand. If you want a longer-lasting solution, you can have an IUD put in, which works to prevent pregnancy for three to 10 years, depending on the type.

In most cases, once you get emergency contraception, you just take one or two doses, and you're good to go. While it can be expensive (usually about $40) it should be covered by your insurance. If it's not, some Planned Parenthood clinics and health departments offer fees on a sliding scale.

5. Get Tested

About two weeks after the incident, you can take a pregnancy test if you haven't gotten your period. In addition to a pregnancy test, you should consider an STD test. A broken condom means exposure to semen, and that can increase your risk. Better safe than sorry.

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