A recent article in the journal Sexual Health reviewed 50 studies about condom use errors from around the world. Here are the common mistakes they found and the prevalence of those errors.
1. Late application: Between 17 percent and 51.1 percent of people reported putting a condom on after intercourse has already begun. Other studies found that late application happens in 1.5 percent to 24.8 percent of sexual encounters.
2. Early removal: Between 13.6 percent and 44.7 percent of individuals in the studies had taken a condom off before intercourse was over. Other studies found that early removal happens in between 1.4 percent and 26.9 percent of sexual encounters.
3. Unrolling a condom before putting it on: Between 2.1 percent and 25.3 percent of people reported completely unrolling a condom before putting it on.
4. No space at the tip: Failing to leave a reservoir for semen was reported by between 24.3 percent and 45.7 percent of respondents, depending on the study.
5. Failing to remove air: Almost half (48.1 percent) of women and 41.6 percent of men reported sexual encounters in which air wasn't squeezed from the tip of the condom.
6. Inside-out condoms: Between 4 percent and 30.4 percent of people reported rolling on a condom inside out and then flipping it the other way around, potentially exposing their partner to bodily fluids.
7. Failing to unroll all the way: 11.2 percent of women and 8.8 percent of men had started intercourse before a condom was unrolled all the way.
8. Exposure to sharp objects: Between 2.1 percent and 11.2 percent of people had opened condom packets with sharp objects or otherwise exposed the latex to tearing.
9. Not checking for damage: Meanwhile, 82.7 percent of women and 74.5 percent of men failed to check condoms for damage before use.
10. No lubrication: Between 16 percent and 25.8 percent of participants had used condoms without lubrication, increasing the risk of a break.
11. Wrong lubrication: In about 4.1 percent of sexual events, people used oil-based lubrications with latex, which can degrade the condom. About 3.2 percent of women and 4.7 percent of men reported this error.
12. Incorrect withdrawal: Failing to promptly and properly withdraw after ejaculation was a common mistake, occurring in up to 57 percent of encounters in one study. About 31 percent of men and 27 percent of women reported this error.
13. Condom reuse: Between 1.4 percent and 3.3 percent of study respondents had re-used a condom at least twice during a sexual encounter.
14. Incorrect storage: Between 3.3 percent and 19.1 percent of people in the studies had stored condoms in conditions outside of the recommendations on the package.
While perfect condom use has a 98 percent success rate at preventing pregnancy, errors can increase the risk of breakage, slippage or other condom failure. Here are the rates for those problems:
Breakage: In various studies, between 0.8 percent and 40.7 percent of participants reported the experience of a broken condom. In some studies, the rates of sex with a broken condom were as high as 32.8 percent.
Slippage: Between 13.1 percent and 19.3 percent of participants reported condom slippage.
Leakage: Condoms leaked in between 0.4 percent and 6.5 percent of sexual encounters studied, with 7.6 percent of men and 12.5 percent of women reporting an experience with a leaky condom.
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Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.