Slips Happen: Going from Concept to Scale on Condom Education

Slips Happen: Going from Concept to Scale on Condom Education

By Laura Perkins, MLS | October 23, 2019
Project Editor, ETR

What happens when you have a problem with a condom? Are there some ways to prevent condoms from slipping or breaking in the first place? Is there anything you can do if you’re worried about getting pregnant or getting an STD? Where are the instructions for that?

I was fascinated to read sexuality educator Mia Barrett’s blog post reporting on a research project that investigated condom error in high school students. According to Barrett, “We do our students a disservice if we pretend that condoms don’t break or slip.”

When I read this line in the blog post, I knew ETR needed a new title on this.

We already had information on how to use a condom, but we didn’t have information on what to do if the condom slips or breaks. Thanks to Barrett, we now have “Problems with Condoms: What to do if the condom breaks, leaks or slips off.”  She took the results of the study and made them accessible to the audience that needs the information the most.

In the 2018 study, ETR researchers and partners with Public Health, Seattle & King County, Washington, discovered that condom breakage and slippage are fairly common among sexually active high school students. About 25% of the students reported they experienced condoms either breaking or slipping off during sex.

When researchers asked students to describe how they used condoms, about 7 in 10 reported they did not squeeze the tip of the condom before putting it on. Half reported they didn’t hold the condom at the base of the penis when pulling out.

The results of the study convinced Barrett to rethink how she teaches about condoms and does condom demonstrations. Now she knows she needs to be more aware some of the students will face dealing with condom slips. She talks about emergency contraception and STD testing, and gives them more explicit tips on how to prevent problems from happening.

 Our new title offers Barrett’s tips for using condoms correctly every time you have sex, addresses questions people may have about emergency contraception and STD testing, and encourages sexually active people not to give up on condoms—because they work really well when you use them right! 

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