Before you panic about condom problems...

Recent headlines about condom failure don't take into account the source.

If a couple uses condoms correctly every time they have sex, they have only a 2% chance of pregnancy in one year. That 2% represents a problem with the condom—most likely slipping or breaking during the act. But a recent review of the problems people report when using condoms found a much high proportion of condom troubles. So which number should we trust? We’re sticking with 2%. Here’s why: the review included studies that aren’t representative of the general population of condom users. For example, 10 of the 50 studies recruited participants from STI clinics. People at STI clinics are more likely to have difficulty with condoms to begin with, so you would expect the percent of people reporting condom problems to be higher in this setting. Only two of the studies in the review included people who truly represent all condom users—one from France and one from Finland. These two studies reported 1-3% of condom users experiencing breakage or slippage, which brings us back to our 2% range. It’s also consistent with the 2% rate reported in a trustworthy scientific review about latex vs. non-latex condoms.

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