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30 Jun 2016
We all know the importance of practicing safe sex. Condoms are 98% effective for preventing unplanned pregnancy, and one of the only forms of contraception that prevents the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
But accidents can happen. In moments of passion, condoms can split. Although it’s a very rare occurrence, it can be alarming to discover that a condom has broken while you were having sex. A broken condom puts you both at risk of STIs, and if you’re a woman, pregnancy.
There are steps you can take after the condom splits in order to protect yourself against STIs and to prevent pregnancy.
You and your partner should both get tested for STIs if the condom splits during sex. This will mean that you can get the right treatment to prevent any infections from developing and will also ensure that STIs do not spread between different sexual partners.
Sexual health clinics and most GPs offer sexual health screening for STIs. These might include a urine sample, a genital swab and/or a blood test.
If you find it hard to get to a clinic or would prefer to test for STIs yourself in the privacy of your own home, there are a number of home testing kits and home sampling kits available, which test for common STIs like Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea and HIV.
If the test does find that you have contracted an STI, many are easily treatable with a course of medication. Your GP will be able to advise on the best treatment.
If you are female and not using any other method of contraception such as the oral pill, you could be at risk of pregnancy if the condom splits. It is important to act as soon as possible after discovering the accident.
Same day/morning after the accident
Emergency contraception is available from your pharmacy, doctor or sexual health clinic. This is a high-dose birth control pill which can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of intercourse, but it is most effective if taken within 24 hours.
If the condom splits during the evening or at night, some clinics and pharmacies have late opening hours – search online to find one close to you.
Over three days after the accident
If you have been unable to reach a pharmacy, clinic or doctor within three days, you should visit your doctor or a sexual health clinic for advice as soon as possible.
The medical professional may take a urine pregnancy test, which can detect pregnancy from as early as several weeks. They may take a blood sample to test for pregnancy, which is more sensitive than a urine test and can detect pregnancy from about six to eight days. However, they won’t suggest a blood test until after your period is due.
The intrauterine device (IUD) is an option to prevent pregnancy over three days after the condom split. It is a form of contraception which can be inserted into your uterus up to five days after in order to prevent pregnancy. The IUD can stay in place and protect against pregnancy for between three and six years for hormonal options, and up to 12 years for the non-hormonal IUD.
If it is several weeks since the condom split, a pregnancy test will be effective at telling if you are pregnant or not. Normal pregnancy tests are effective from 21 days after conception. If you have missed your period or your period is late, this may be a sign of pregnancy.
If you find that you are pregnant, you should visit your GP to discuss your options.
How to prevent condoms from splitting in future
Condoms are designed to be very flexible and durable, so if the condom split this may be a sign that you or your partner are using condoms incorrectly. To prevent the same accident from happening in future:
·Keep condoms away from heat and light
·Don’t fold or scrunch condoms before using them
·Don’t open the condom packet with anything sharp such as scissors or teeth
·Avoid using oils, lotions or oil based lubricants as these can react with the condom
·Ensure that your condoms have not expired
·Make sure that you are putting condoms on correctly.
Visit Freedoms Shop for a wide range of condoms and lubricants, and for STI home screening kits.