Feeling Torn: What should I do if the condom broke?

Dear Sexpert,

Last night after my girlfriend and I had sex, I went to dispose of the condom and I noticed a tear in it. Now, we’re both really worried. Could she be pregnant? Where is the best place to get emergency contraceptive pills? What should I do?!

–Feeling Torn

Dear Torn,

If the condom broke during sexual intercourse, there is a chance that your girlfriend might become pregnant. To prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex, your girlfriend should take emergency contraception as soon as possible. There are several options available to you. Plan B, the most widely known emergency contraceptive pill, is sold both in McCosh Health Center and over the counter in CVS. McCosh Health Center also carries Ella, an emergency contraceptive pill that requires a prescription. It is important that your girlfriend take one of these as soon as possible, as Plan B is no longer effective more than 3 days  after unprotected sex and Ella only provides some protection up to 5 days. Your girlfriend might also want to consider Paragard, a copper IUD (interuterine device) that acts as both an effective birth control method and an emergency contraceptive, and can be inserted up to 5 days after unprotected sex. If your girlfriend is already considering alternative birth control methods, this may be a good option for her. Discuss these options, and take action together towards obtaining the best one for her.

After taking emergency contraception, unfortunately, there is not much you can do but wait. Emergency contraceptive pills contain hormones that can affect the regularity of a woman’s menstrual cycle, so your girlfriend’s period might not arrive exactly when expected. McCosh Health Center or local pharmacies also carry pregnancy tests. The accuracy of these tests increases with the passing of time, so taking a test at least two weeks after unprotected sex might yield the most reliable result. Be aware, however, that pregnancy tests are not 100% accurate. You can take multiple tests to increase the reliability of the results.  Also remember that emergency contraceptives, IUDs and other forms of birth control do not protect against sexually transmitted infections like condoms and dental dams do.

In the future, to reduce the risk of both STIs and pregnancy, you and your girlfriend should continue using condoms (or another form of birth control) during sexual intercourse. While condoms are not perfect and tears can happen, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of this occurring again. Before having sex, check the expiration date of the condom on the back of the package. Tear the package carefully with your hands – not your teeth! Find out which way the condom rolls down and roll it down your penis. Make sure to squeeze the tip after putting it on to let out any air bubbles. Immediately after sexual intercourse, grasp the tip of your penis while withdrawing to prevent the condom from slipping off. Don’t wait to withdraw, or your penis might become flaccid enough for the condom to slip off. By following these steps, you can greatly increase the effectiveness of condoms against pregnancy and STIs. Good luck and stay safe!

~The Sexpert