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Fam Plann Perspect. 1994 May-Jun;26(3):107-12.

Condom breakage and slippage among men in the United States.

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  • 1Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation, Seattle.


Data on condom breakage and slippage from a nationally representative survey show that the average condom breakage rate experienced by 20-39-year-old men who have used a condom in the preceding six months was 2.7%, and that 1.9% of all condoms used during that time broke. Comparable condom slippage rates are 2.7% and 2.0%, respectively. Condom breakage and slippage appear to be 4-5 times higher among black men than among men of other races. Levels of breakage and slippage are also elevated among low-income men and those who used condoms relatively infrequently in the six months before the survey. The data also indicate that men who engage in high-risk sexual behavior, such as having multiple partners and engaging in anal intercourse, are more likely to experience condom breakage and slippage.


Interviews with 3321 US men ages 20-39 years who were part of the 1991 National Survey of Men identified a 1.9% breakage rate per condom in the 6 months preceding the survey. The 1226 respondents who reported condom use during the study period were more likely than their nonuser counterparts to be Black, Hispanic, unmarried, and under 35 years of age. The number of condoms used in the preceding 6 months among these men was: 1-9, 47.4%; 10-19, 19.4%; and 20 or over, 33.2%. Most were lubricated latex condoms. The 1.9% breakage rate per condom used was derived by dividing the total number of condoms that broke by the total number of condoms used. Also computed was a 2.7% breakage rate per person--a statistic based on separate computations for each respondent rather than the population as a whole. The per condom slippage rate was 2.0%; the per person slippage rate was 2.7%. The per person breakage rate was 8.3% among Black men compared to 1.6% for non-Blacks; the per person slippage rate was 7.6% for Black respondents compared to 1.8% for all other men. Men with annual incomes under US$10,000 had a 5.8% breakage rate compared to rates of 1.0-1.8% for those in higher brackets. The average breakage rate was 3.7% among men who used under 10 condoms in the study period versus 1.7% among those who used 10 or more condoms. The slippage rate was 3.3% for men who used under 10 condoms, 2.9% among users of 10-19 condoms, and 1.9% if 20 or more condoms had been used. The breakage rate was 11.5% among men with two or more sexual partners in the previous month compared to 2.2% among men with a single partner. Finally, breakage rates were higher among men who preferred condom brands containing a nonspermicidal lubricant.

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