The CDC says the FAILURE rate of condoms is 18%. Is that true? Why?

Yes, that is the actual failure rate for condoms reported by the CDC. It is much higher that the claimed rate by the manufactures because this is real life, with real people, not some bench top test . This is why the CDC recommends that condoms ALWAYS be used with a spermicidal foam or jelly!

Why is the failure rate so high? Lots of reasons:

1) Not enough lube or lube runs low during use.

2) Wrong kind of lube. Don't use vaseline, baby oil or vegetable oils as they dissolve the latex. Use KY or secial lubricant.

3) Old condoms, or condoms not stored well. Don't leave them in a hot car or in your wallet for months on end and expect them to be pristine. Even body temperature will start the process.

4) Condoms tear in use due to tightening, which is common. If you feel it getting tight, pull out and get a new one.

5) Imperfections in the latex. Microscopically they are never perfect. The water test can detect holes only as small as 5 micrometer, but this sized hole is many times the size of sexually-transmitted viruses and even of the bacterium Chlamydia.

6) They are as thin as possible for maximal sensation, but obviously that makes them weaker.

7) Tampering. Never take one from a buddy.


Don't be fooled by the water fill test, where the condom expands forever without bursting. That test has nothing to do with how it is used.

If you want to test condom to failure, put a broom handle in it and rub it back and forth on a surface with one drop of lube. See what happens after 50 strokes, 100 strokes, 200... It will break once the lube is used up. Further, if there is more pressure on the in stroke, than the out stroke, it will start to get tighter. That can also break it.

For more info, check out http://utw10426.utweb.utexas.edu/book/chap6.pdf