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Can a hole in condom cause pregnancy? Can I get pregnant if condom breaks

Last Updated - Fri, Mar 16 2018

Similar Questions - Am I pregnant, can I get pregnant if a condom breaks, how effective are condoms, Condom, condom broke, unprotected sex, am i pregnant, how effective are condoms: 8,100

Detailed Question:

Hi Doctor, 

I have a problem and I am really tensed about it. I had sex with my boyfriend at my place last night and I am scared that I might be pregnant. I have never had unprotected sex as I do not want to get pregnant anytime soon. He put a condom on before were started having sex and wore it throughout, right until the end. I checked whether the condom broke after we finished and since it hadn’t, I assumed that I was safe from pregnancy. A few hours after he left my house, I noticed that the wrapper of the condom had a pin-sized hole in it. The scary part of it was that the hole was on either side of the wrapper, which means that there probably were two holes in the condom. The holes couldn’t have been very big because I did not notice them and neither did he. Is it possible to get pregnant if the condom has a very small hole in it? Yesterday was the 12th day of my menstrual cycle. What are the chances that I was ovulating when I had sex? 

I’m really worried. I am only 19 years old and my boyfriend and I are not in a serious relationship yet. I’m scared to tell him about the wrapper and I don’t know how I would face my parents if anything were to happen. I’m not quite sure but I think that it is too soon to take a pregnancy test. Should I take an I-pill or is it dangerous? Also, I would like to know how effective condoms are and whether you suggest that we start using some other forms of birth control instead of them. This is only the fourth time that I am having sex and I have never heard of anything like this happening. Please help me as soon as you can because I know I shouldn’t wait too long before taking the pill. 
Thanks a lot.

Category: Gynaecology


Dr. Richa Sharma

Post Doctoral Fellow - Reproductive Medicines, MS Obst and Gynecology, MBBS, FRM, FNBE, MRCOG

Hello, 

Thank you for consulting us at JustDoc. I understand why you are tensed right now and will do my best to answer your queries. I hope that everything will be alright. I do not want to scare you but yes, even a small hole in a condom can result in pregnancy. Let me explain to you how this is possible so that you can take the necessary precautions in the future. 

How effective are condoms? 

Many people believe that using condoms is a foolproof method of preventing unwanted pregnancy. Although they do help in prevented both pregnancy and STDs, it is important for users to note that they are not 100 percent effective. Even when used perfectly, condoms are only 98 percent effective. Studies have revealed that there is a 2 – 3 percent chance of the condom breaking during intercourse, which means that the chance of getting pregnant in spite of using the condom correctly is also 2 – 3 per cent. However, as not all people engaging in intercourse use condoms in the correct manner, their actual rate of effectiveness is approximately only 80-85 per cent.

As you know, condoms prevent the sperm that is present in the semen of the man from entering the vagina of the woman and thus prevent her from getting pregnant. When a condom breaks or tears during intercourse the chance of pregnancy rises significantly. In order for a woman to get pregnant, the sperm has to survive long enough to make its way to the egg and fertilise it. It is therefore often said that the more the sperm that enters the vagina, the greater are the chances that one of them will meet the egg. 

The size of a sperm is only around 50 micrometres which means that even a pin-sized hole in a condom is big enough to allow a considerable amount of sperm to enter the vagina. As it takes only one sperm to fertilise the egg, a hole in a condom, no matter how small, can put you at risk.

How can you increase the effectiveness of condoms? 

In the future, it is advisable that you take a few simple steps that will help to prevent the condom from slipping and breaking, thereby increasing their effectiveness. Here are some tips:
  1. Storage: Condoms should always be stored in a dry place at room temperature and away from sunlight. Though keeping condoms in wallets is a common practice, it should be avoided as they can get damaged due to the heat of the body and the friction created by body movements. If they remain in the wallet for too long, they tend to develop holes and tears which may sometimes go unnoticed and lead to accidental pregnancies. 
  2. Expiration date: After condoms expire, they become brittle and dry, which increases the chance of them breaking during intercourse. Thus, it is important to make a habit of checking the expiration date on condoms before usage. 
  3. Lubricants: Even when using pre-lubricated condoms, adding more lubricant can help in further reducing the friction. When using a dry condom, it is extremely important to remember to use only water-based lubricants. Oil-based lubricants, including Vaseline as well as those made from vegetable oils, have a negative effect on the latex, breaking the condom and allowing sperm to pass through it. 
  4. Prevent slipping: In order to prevent slipping, ensure that the man chooses a condom that is of the correct size and fits comfortably. 
  5. Air bubbles: Before rolling on the condom, ensure that you squeeze the air out of it completely. While rolling the condom down to the base of the penis, make sure that there are no air bubbles trapped inside. Air bubbles can not only lead to discomfort but can also cause the condom to pop. 
  6. The type of condom: Both latex and polyurethane condoms provide the same level of protection. Spermicidal condoms are not recommended as they do not provide the necessary protection against pregnancy as well as against the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.
Other forms of birth control 

Although commonly used, condoms are not the most effective form of birth control. The following 
are a few of the other methods that are considered to be more effective:
  1. IUD: In this method, a T-shaped plastic device which is wrapped in copper is surgically implanted into the uterus of the woman. This device prevents the sperm from reaching the egg and is 99% effective. 
  2. Vaginal ring: It is a flexible plastic ring which is placed in the vagina of the woman. It releases oestrogen and progestogen, a constant dose of which prevents the egg from being released by the ovaries. This method, too, is 99% effective. 
  3. Birth Control Sponge: This is a hormone-free method in which a squishy porous foam object is inserted into the woman’s vagina. It releases a spermicide and prevents the sperm from coming in contact with the egg. It is considered to be a safe method of birth control and is more effective for women who have never had a child. 
  4. Cervical Cap: It is a bowl-shaped device that is inserted deep into the vagina and fits over the cervix. It is 84-91 percent effective and is safe.
Your menstrual cycle

The possibility of pregnancy depends not only on whether the sperm of the male reaches the egg but also on whether the woman is ovulating. The risk of pregnancy is the highest when a couple engages in unprotected intercourse when the woman is fertile. If a woman has a 28-day cycle, her ovulation phase will fall on the 14th day. However, a sperm can remain alive in a woman’s body for up to five days. This means that if a woman has intercourse even up to five days before she starts ovulating, there is a chance that she could get pregnant. You mentioned that you had intercourse on the 12th day of your cycle. If you have a regular menstrual cycle, which is around 28 days long, there exists a risk of pregnancy. 

You are right about it being too soon to take a pregnancy test. As your next period isn’t due in the near future, I do not suggest that you wait until then to find out whether you are pregnant. A pregnancy test can be taken even 7 days after intercourse but often provides a false negative result. Since there a possibility that you are pregnant because of the hole in the condom, I recommend that you take an I-pill. Please note that the I-pill has a number of side effects, including nausea, weight gain, missed menstrual periods and more, and is thus recommended only in case of emergencies. I hope that your queries have been resolved but as every case is different, I suggest that you consult a gynaecologist.

Sources:

https://www.brown.edu/campus-life/health/services/sites/brown.edu.campus-life.health.services/files/uploads/condoms%2013.pdf
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/contraception-guide/Pages/male-condoms.aspx
http://www.slideshare.net/misteraugie/health101chapter10
http://www.fpa.org.uk/contraception-help/contraceptive-vaginal-ring
http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20354669,00.html#iud
https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004001.htm
http://www.everydayhealth.com/erectile-dysfunction/condom-mistakes-you-dont-want-to-make.aspx

Dr. Richa Sharma

Post Doctoral Fellow - Reproductive Medicines, MS Obst and Gynecology, MBBS, FRM, FNBE, MRCOG

Dr. Richa is a hard working professional focussed on her work and believes in results and wants to do the best for mankind by ways and avenues she comes across by joining hands with people with the same long term visions.

About Author

The above medicine data is written by Dr. Richa Sharma. It is edited, updated and maintained by JustDoc Quality Team. If you have any queries regarding the data, please email us at doctors@justdoc.com. Read about our Medical Team here.



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Dr. Richa Sharma

Post Doctoral Fellow - Reproductive Medicines, MS Obst and Gynecology, MBBS, FRM, FNBE, MRCOG

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