Q&A: Why Did My Condom Slip Off?

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QUESTION: I am a sexually active, heterosexual male in a monogamous relationship. Recently, at or near climax during vaginal sex my condom slipped off completely. Along with condoms, we also use vaginal contraceptive foam, but considering the depth the condom had reached we opted to use Plan B emergency contraceptive as well. My question is two-fold. First, why did this happen. I produce a lot of pre-cum; does this have anything to do with it? Second, and more importantly, how can this be prevented in the future?

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Good for you and your partner for working together to use generally effective means of safer sex. Condoms sometimes slip off or break. Occasionally the reasons are clear-cut. For example, if the condom is far too small for a man’s penis, it may be at a higher risk of breakage. If the condom is far too large, it may be at a higher risk of slipping off during sex. If a couple uses too much lubricant during sex, or places a good deal of lubricant inside of the condom, then that may also increase the risk of slippage.

Other times the reasons for breakage or slippage are less clear. Uncircumcised men sometimes have a slightly higher risk of condom slippage than men whose penises have been circumcised, likely due to the way the foreskin moves across the penis during intercourse, and therefore also moves against the condom.

Pre-Ejaculate A Possible Cause?

It is possible, but less likely, that your pre-ejaculate (or “pre-cum”) is a significant contributor to condom slippage. Even if it is, you can’t change the amount of pre-ejaculate that your body releases. Instead, let’s focus on what you can change.

It may be, too, that the contraceptive foam makes things slippery enough that the condom becomes more prone to slipping off during sex (just as too much lubricant can do the same thing).

Using Cock Rings or Erection Rings

You can use a c-ring such as a one time use vibrating condom ring that are now available at some drug stores and large retail chains or through Condomania.com. Then again, vibrating c-rings such as the Jelly Tool Belt (pureromance.com) are reusable and their vibration lasts longer. C-rings (also called cock rings or erection rings) stretch over the base of a man’s penis to anchor the condom into place.

If this continues to worry you, then you and your partner might consider other ways to be sexual together than don’t increase your risk of pregnancy or infection transmission (if you two have not been tested or don’t know your infection status).

If you still want to have intercourse with each other, consider additional methods of birth control such as the birth control pill, patch, shot or ring that will are highly effective at reducing the risk of pregnancy.

Learn More

To learn more about condom use and other methods of contraception, read our Birth Control Resources Page or visit plannedparenthood.org.

Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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