It’s one of the most frightening moments in a relationship. No, I’m not talking about a break-up, or even finding out that your guy or girl has a secret obsession with Twilight fan fiction—though that would be pretty terrifying. I’m talking about when your condom breaks.
A broken condom can mean the difference between a casual go-around in the sack, and an unplanned pregnancy. When this happens, it can feel like your world is caving in on you. But if a condom does break during sex, you don’t need to freak out just yet. You’re not condemned to Teen Mom-dom. You have options.
Lizzie Jekanowski, a senior at Boston College and chair of the student group, Boston College Students for Sexual Health, has a few suggestions about what to do in this kind of emergency situation. “The first step would be emergency contraception,” Jekanowski says, “which can be taken up to five days after the break, but it becomes less effective with each passing day.” Emergency contraception, also known as Plan B and the Morning After Pill, is available at most pharmacies for around $50-$60, and you must be 17 years or older to purchase the pill without parental consent.
Jekanowski notes that Planned Parenthood also has lots of resources for women facing health issues after a condom breakage. “They have prescription birth control, emergency contraception, and information about abortion services if it comes down to that,” she says.
Jekanowski also reminds us that pregnancy isn’t the only issue that can result from a condom breaking. “STI [sexually transmitted infection] testing after a break is really important. Both partners should be tested. You can get that at Planned Parenthood.” Lizzie also notes that many universities and colleges offer STI testing as a part of their health services – including Boston College.
Jekanowski also suggests preventing the problem to begin with. “When used correctly, condoms are 99.95 effective. If they break, that might mean partners should look into other condom sizes and materials that would work better. Also, lube eases the friction which can cause condoms to break.” If you experience a break, it might be time to give that sticky stuff a try, or admit that your man may not fit into that Magnum condom.
Aside from the health complications that can arise from a condom breakage, there are emotional issues that can occur as well. Jekanowski claims that emotional support is just as important as the necessary health steps. “One of the most important things,” says Lizzie, “is effective communication between the two partners. A condom breaking is scary for a lot of reasons, and it’s important to feel supported as they begin talking about their next steps.”
If your condom breaks, stay calm. Be rational, weigh your options, act fast, and most importantly, talk to your partner. An open line of communication and a smart approach to pregnancy prevention can ease your worries and avert the potential affects of a broken condom.