There are dozens of sizes, styles, shapes and features of condoms on the market. They are made out of latex, polyurethane, or lambskin and come lubricated or not. Regardless of the type, condoms are not indestructible. Accidents happen. Condoms can rip or tear, putting men and women at risk for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.
Most condom failures are due to improper use and storage.
When a condom breaks, it is usually because it does not fit properly or was not put on correctly. For example, space for semen was not left at the tip of the condom.
Chemicals weaken condoms. Never use an oil-based lubricant, since it will weaken latex condoms and cause breakage. Examples of oil-based lubricants are Crisco, lotion, Vaseline, or baby oil. Women take note: medications used to treat yeast infections can also weaken condoms. Using water-based lubricants such as glycerin or lubricating jellies during intercourse are safe for condoms.
Condoms that come into contact with fingernails, rings, piercings, teeth, or other sharp edges run a higher risk for tearing. Do not open a condom with anything sharp, like scissors or teeth.
Condoms can also rip if there is too much friction and not enough lubrication.
You may not think of condoms as fragile, but they are not like canned veggies that may last on the shelf for extended periods of time. Using out-of-date condoms is another reason condoms break. The material used to make condoms can weaken over time. Check the expiration date on the package. You can use condoms for up to four years after the date of manufacture. Do not use condoms after the expiration date. If you are not sure the age of the condom, the best advice is to throw it away and use a brand new one. Never use condoms that are brittle, sticky, damaged, or an unusual color.
Keep unused condoms in a dry, dark place at room temperature. Extreme heat or cold can weaken the material. Sunlight or humidity can also break down latex, causing condoms to break or tear more easily.