How can we avoid condom breakage?

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Dear Dr. Myrtle,

We like using condoms, but every once in a while they break. Recently, they’ve been breaking every other time we use them, and it’s beginning to scare me. Should we be getting stronger condoms? Is there any way to decrease the chances that our condom will break?


First, any intact condom is a good condom. Most condom breakages happen because the people using them (from both sides) have not used enough lubricant. Even condoms packaged with lubricant need additional water-based lubricant applied to them so that they will not develop small or large tears during use.

If a man is wearing the condom, try putting a small amount of water-based lube on the head of his penis, then rolling the condom onto the shaft. Apply more lube to the outside of the condom (or to the receiver) and you will find that the sensation is greatly increased, and your chances of the condom breaking are lower. Playing with extra lubricant can bring major pleasure, and safety, to your sex life!

Other tips:

  • Find out whether the condoms you are using are made of latex or polyurethane.
    • Polyurethane condoms (including the female condom) are thinner condoms made from a plastic, and are suggested for those people with latex allergies. Heat and texture transfer right through polyurethane, making them high-pleasure favorites. However, their thinness means they you’ll need extra lubricant when using them. Also, they can slide off of the penis, so have a cock ring handy to keep ’em right where you want ’em.
    • For latex condoms, the second major cause of condom breakage is using an oil-based product (Vaseline, massage oil, cooking oil, etc.). Oil dissolves the latex structure, and leads to condom breakage in as little as 30 seconds! If you’ve recently changed your habits to include an oil-based lubricant (or a moisturizing body soap, or you slather oil-based lotion on your skin after shaving), this could be the source of your troubles.
  • Check the expiration date on your condom package. Condoms have a useable time of two years from manufacture.
  • Keep your condom supply out of excessive heat or cold. Both of these temperature extremes lower the time use.
  • Store your condoms in a place without sun or artificial light: light weakens the condom material, and lowers its shelf-life.

Take Care.

Dr. Myrtle

p.s. and throw out any spermicidal condoms that you still have--spermicides are not safe for penetration.