Condoms are, as a premise, ridiculous. That we roll squeaky polyurethane, latex or lambskin sheaths over erect penises, while maintaining arousal, is a feat in itself. And while there are plenty of other contraceptive methods out there, we can largely agree that condoms represent a relatively easy way to steer clear of diseased genitals or unwanted babies who grow up to sap away your lifeblood and cash.
Well, that's when condoms actually work – 98% of the time, officially. They're otherwise prone to ripping, sliding off or sort of bursting, especially when not put on properly. It's International Condom Day, so naturally we made people tell us about all the times condoms tore, snapped or disappeared inside vaginas. Happy almost-Valentine's Day.
THE LOST "BALLOON"
I was 16, and having sex with my first boyfriend at his parents' house while his 5-year-old sister knocked on the door. True romance. My boyfriend finished, and the condom was completely missing. We were dumb kids, so thought it must be somewhere in the bed and started looking frantically. Meanwhile, his sister had somehow got the door open – we, obviously, were still naked.
After dashing to slam the door in her face and quickly getting dressed, we let her in as though nothing had happened. When she asked what we were doing, my boyfriend told her we were looking for "a balloon" and she enthusiastically joined the search. After she got bored and finally left (thank God), we knew there was only one place where condom could be: inside me. So we went on the hunt and found it. It was ripped and I was pissed off and I still hate condoms partly because of this.
– Stephanie, 26
THE CHILLOUT GONE WRONG
I was having sex with one guy at his place – let's call him Tom – while there was another guy in the room. I think they'd been having sex before, but guy number two was chilling out in his underwear, on his phone. I remember feeling a sort of pop. I didn't think much of it, and we continued having sex, before I came inside Tom. I pulled out, and thought 'whoops': looking down, there was just a ring of rubber around me.
I told Tom and he started to freak out, but I was like, "hey, I was STD-tested the other day and I'm all cool." The other guy in the room was arbitrating between Tom and I, meanwhile, saying I seemed like a good guy and wouldn't have done it on purpose. I ended up leaving, at Tom's request, then coming back in after messaging him to apologise again on Grindr. We had a nice, sweet sleepover, though I'm pretty sure he was high. Maybe that explains why he let me back in.
– Jamal, 23
THE DAY-LONG SOUND EFFECTS
I ended up with a squeaking vagina. During sex, my boyfriend at the time came, pulled out and then realised that the condom had sort of come off. There was some prodding around, and some miscommunication that led to me thinking he'd found the condom in the bed. I spent all day in severe discomfort with this weird sound inside my body – I thought I was imagining it. Later that night, I described the sound to him over text and he was like, "You did find it, didn't you..." I said, "Find what?" And then it dawned on me. I rushed to the loo, fished it out, then started bleeding immediately. I was crying, and made him call NHS Direct. It turns out the condom bit had lodged up there and triggered my period.
– Charlotte, 21
THE GYNAECOLOGIST TRIP
I hadn't seen my girlfriend at the time for a month. But I hadn't packed the boxes of condoms I'd bought, so when we finally got to her place, I checked my bag and saw that I didn't have any. Luckily there was one condom left from the last time we'd spent the night together – an old, super-thin kind. We started fucking and while we were going at it, I felt something tickle my balls. As I pulled out to check, the condom had, like, disintegrated so I had to spend the rest of the night cleaning all the bits out of my girlfriend's lady parts. Also we didn't get all the pieces out, so we had to go to a gynaecologist to peel them out. A word of advice: put your condoms on properly because those air bubbles are a real threat.
– Andrew, 28
THE EXPLODING BATCH
The first time I had a condom break, I was 17 and having sex with my girlfriend at the time in a park. During sex I checked the condom to see if it was okay, and I could see it, but when we finished I looked down and just saw a ring of latex around the base of my dick. Neither of us really cared about it, assuming it was on the ground somewhere after a quick look. A week later she called me to say she had found the condom inside herself.
Years later, I was having first-time sex with a girl I'd met a club through mutual friends and it was pretty rough and aggressive and good. We went through three or four condoms, which were all exploding immediately – and yes, I was putting them on correctly – so we decided to quit the condoms and have really fantastic sex anyway. She ended up getting pregnant, and that was fine. So thank you condoms for sucking, I'm now a dad and it's amazing.
– Mathew, 32
THE 6AM PHARMACY HELL
The week after I'd decided to stop seeing Elliot, an OKCupid guy, he said that he "just happened" to be in my neighbourhood and wanted to come say hi. One thing led to another and we started having sex, and as he was coming inside me he casually said, "Oh, I think the condom just broke." His condoms came from some social services outlet in Canada – who knows how old they were. Exasperated, I got on my phone to look up when the nearest pharmacy opened up, for the morning-after pill. It was about midnight, and they were shut until about 6am. We dropped off to sleep before Elliot insisted on coming with me to the pharmacy, sheepishly handing me a £10 bill before I sped down the escalator to the counter. I could hear him shouting my name from a few aisles away, lost, but I paid the cashier, ran back up the escalator and left. I took the pill outside, and Elliot was calling my phone, over and over again. I ignored him.
– Rachel, 26
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