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Contraception. 1997 Jul;56(1):17-21.

Latex condom breakage and slippage in a controlled clinical trial.

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  • 1Health Decisions, Inc., Chapel Hill, NC 27514, USA.


Although millions of couples rely on male latex condoms to protect against unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, their use is limited in part by questions about their performance. Rates of condom breakage and slippage, two measures of performance, vary broadly across studies. This variation in part reflects study variability and limitations, including sample size, reliance on subjects' memory, user populations, and products evaluated. In an effort to define condom performance in a group of monogamous couples typical of those using condoms for contraception, we conducted a clinical trial of a single brand of lubricated condoms (Durex Ramses). A total of 4637 attempts to use the condom were evaluated. Six breaks occurred before intercourse (nonclinical breaks), and 10 condoms broke during intercourse or were only noted to have broken upon withdrawal (clinical breaks), resulting in a nonclinical breakage rate of 0.13% (95% confidence interval, 0.05-0.28%), clinical breakage rate of 0.28% (0.15-0.48%), and a total breakage rate of 0.41% (0.25-0.64%). The rate of complete slippage was 0.63% (0.42-0.90%), and total failure (clinical breaks plus complete slips) was 1.04% (0.76-1.37%). These rates are lower than those in other studies with the exception of one, a prospective investigation in a population of female prostitutes. Results indicate that condoms can, in experienced, motivated populations, provide excellent performance and suggest that their efficacy at preventing pregnancy may equal that of the most reliable forms of contraception. Because this study involved a single condom brand, these results may not be generalizable to other brands.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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