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Testing condoms for holes
Jul 26, 1999

After the intercourse, I found the condom had two tiny holes that could leak water from inside. I don't know the HIV status of my partner. How is my odds getting infected?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your question.

You should never test a condom yourself to see if there are any holes in it. This is for several reasons:

1) Condoms are checked for holes and manufacturing defects in the factory prior to being sold. Therefore testing the condom for holes yourself before you use it, is really not necessary. However, if you see any noticeable holes or defects in the condom when you open up the package, throw the condom away and use another one.

2) If you test the condom before you use it (for example by filling it with water or blowing air in it), you can actually damage the condom while you are testing it. Testing the condom yourself (before you use it) can weaken the condom, making it more likely to break during use. Therefore, you should never test a condom before you use it.

3) If you test a condom after you use it (by filling it with water or blowing air in it), you may accidentally expose yourself to your partners body fluids (semen, vaginal secretions, discharges, etc.). While you are testing the condom, you could potentially (and needlessly) be exposed to HIV and other STDs. Never test a condom after you use it. Instead, immediately throw the condom in the garbage.

4) Since testing the condom afterwards could itself damage the condom, this could make you think that the condom had holes in it during use, when in fact the holes were actually caused by you testing the condom afterwards. In other words, testing the condom after use is not a reliable way to tell you if holes were present while the condom was being used.

In summary, unless you can actually see holes in the condom, or unless you see the condom break, there is no reason to assume that the condom had holes in it, or that the condom failed to protect you. Therefore, there is no need to test the condom. This of course assumes that you used the condom correctly (most condom failures are due to incorrect use rather than manufacturing defects). Never test a condom yourself before or after you use it.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).



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