Most people are aware that when used properly, condoms have proved to be highly effective to prevent pregnancy and to reduce risks associated with Sexually Transmitted Diseases ("STDs.") Despite this, condoms have one clear shortfall not often addressed: the material of the condom can tear during vaginal or anal intercourse, leaving the coitus participants as exposed as they would be with no condom at all. This article gives some brief advice about what to do in the event of a condom breaking in the middle of intercourse.
Two Different Risks
Cute maybe, but probably not what you want right now
The risks of unprotected sex can be conceived as being of two kinds:
- Unwanted pregnancies.
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
When a condom breaks, there are specific steps to follow depending on which of these risks you want to avoid, but in all cases there is one basic rule to obey: pause the encounter as soon as you become aware of the condom breaking. A torn condom is not too hard to detect, mostly because the sensations will be slightly different. If you're a man, you might suddenly notice that the pleasure of each thrust is magically heightened, so check that condom when things start to feel too good. Also, the condom might make a sound when breaking; if you hear a balloon poping somewhere, don't just assume there's a clown nearby, and do check your preservative.
Avoiding Unwanted Pregnancies
As you people know, the condom prevents pregnancy by containing the semen ejaculated by the man, thus preventing it from reaching the woman's uterus. If you're enjoying some heterosexual sex and the condom suddenly breaks before the man ejaculates, the obvious advice is to interrupt the encounter before the man unloads his semen inside the vagina
. Even if you manage to do this, there is still a pregnancy risk, because the pre-ejaculatory fluid discharged by men can contain a small amount of sperm. A good practice is to administer emergency contraceptives or "morning after" pills to the woman after a broken condom accident
. In most cases, these pills can prevent pregnancy when administered up to 72 hours after the relation. Another wise measure is to use a spermicidal agent in addition to the condom
. Remember also the alternatives offered by diaphragms and contraceptive pills.
STDs are usually transmitted when the direct contact involved in sex allows the bodily fluids of a diseased person to come in contact with the skin and other tissues of a healthy person. In the particular case of the HIV virus, the contact of a fluid with the skin is not enough for the virus to be transmitted, as long as the skin is intact. However, the friction caused by sex creates minuscule wounds in the skin, through which the HIV virus can infiltrate into the body. Most of these wounds are generated in the skin of the penis and the vagina (in the case of vaginal sex), which are constantly rubbing against each other. When a condom breaks, the secretions of the vagina mixed with the fluid that exits through the penis come into contact with the skin of the participant's genitalia. In this situation, a reasonable action is to stop the coitus as soon as the condom failure is detected. Washing the genitals with water and soap reduces the probability of contagion when done soon enough, even if it breaks the romantic mood. There are claims that the spermicide nonoxinol-9 kills or stops the growth of the HIV virus, and herpes simplex I and II viruses, although its efficacy in preventing the acquisition of AIDS is a contentious issue. You might want to consider using a product containing nonoxinol-9 in order to reduce the risk of STD contagion. One thing to emphasize is that regardless of what you do after the condom breaks during a sexual encounter, the risk of contracting a STD cannot be reduced to a negligible level (unless you're certain that your partner is STD free.) Know the symptoms of the common STDs, and consider taking one STD examination in the near future.
Final Piece of Advice
If you are sexually active, there is no fail-proof way of avoiding STDs, but you can dramatically enhance your chances of remaining healthy by being smart. If you are determined to have several different sex partners all the time, raise your level of protection. Be wary of "ultra sensitive" (very thin) condoms, which are the most likely to break (they do feel good, though.) If using a condom for an extended period of time, try to use a new one whenever the prior has taken heavy punishment. Try also to discover the slippery pleasure of lubricant products which will get rid of excessive friction, increasing the durability of your preservatives. Remember that condoms are your merry friends; treat them gently and they will care and protect you.
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