Seriously, breathe! The condom isn’t actually stuck inside you!
“It’s just left behind,” says Felice Gersh, MD, author of “PCOS SOS: A Gynecologist’s Lifeline to Naturally Restore Your Rhythms, Hormones and Happiness.”
She explains that the vagina has a stopping point — the cervix — so the condom really can’t go higher than where the penis or sex toy likely just was.
Do you need to get the rubber out? Yes. Are there things you should consider once you get the bugger out of you? Also, yes.
For now, take comfort in knowing that it’s not in there forever, nor does the condom itself pose an immediate health risk.
Below, your crib sheet.If it’s still inside and you think you can reach it
“The vaginal canal is only 10 to 12 centimeters long, so typically vagina owners (or their partners) are able to reach the condom,” says Michael Ingber, a board-certified urologist and female pelvic medicine specialist with The Center for Specialized Women’s Health in New Jersey.
If that’s you, he gives you the green light to go ahead and pull that bad boy out.
But, and this is important, he said reaching and pulling should only be done with clean fingers! Not tweezers, eyelash curlers, scissors, or anything else.
Put anything sharp inside and you risk scraping or otherwise injuring the delicate skin of the vagina.
Plus, non-sterilized devices pose the risk of introducing bacteria that could cause a yeast, bacterial, or urinary tract infection. Pass.
“Wash your hands, clip or file your nails so there’s a smooth edge, insert one or two fingers inside the vagina, and use a hook-like motion to yank it out,” says Ingber.
What position works best? That depends.
Try reaching for it by positioning your body the same way you do when you insert a tampon or reusable cup. Then, push!
Seriously, imagine you’re giving birth to a… condom.
It may be helpful to squat or use something to step on, elevate one leg, and bear down. You can always try a different angle and direction if you can’t feel the condom.
If that doesn’t work, try reclining on your back against your pillow or headboard, and get all up in between your legs, the way you might if you were masturbating.
You can add a dollop of lube (or coconut oil, if you don’t have any lube) to your fingertips to help your fingers slide into your vagina and reach the condom.
And do your best to breathe!
Having a condom inside your body can be a little stressful.
When you’re stressed, your pelvic floor muscles contract, which makes your canal tighter and may make penetration (aka reaching the condom) uncomfortable or impossible.
So, if you need to take an extra 5 minutes to catch your cool, take them!
If baths are part of your usual relaxation routine, you might even draw yourself up a warm bath and go fishing for the condom while submerged in the muscle-relaxing warm water.
Once you get it, don’t toss it immediately into the trash.
“You want to make sure that everything is intact,” says Ingber. “Roll out the condom to make sure that there aren’t any pieces missing and that there aren’t still little pieces inside your body.”
If there are, he recommends going to the doc.If it’s still inside and you don’t think you can reach it
If you were just having partnered or multi-partnered sex, ask your partner to lend you a hand.
Get into a seated missionary position, then have them lay between your legs… kinda like they’re about to go down on you. Then tell them to use two clean, well-lubed fingers to hook and pull the condom out.
Still in there? Don’t worry! That bugger isn’t going to be up there forever.
You do want to do your best to get it out sooner rather than later, though.
“It’s generally OK to wait an hour or two but waiting a long time can increase the risk of vaginal infection,” says Ingber.
That’s why both he and Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, double board certified in OB-GYN and maternal fetal medicine, and director of perinatal services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln, recommend calling up your OB-GYN and explaining your sitch.
If you don’t have a gynecologist you see regularly, go to a walk-in clinic or urgent care.
The retrieval itself will only take a few seconds.
“Usually, we’ll put a speculum into the vagina to open it, and then remove the condom using a tool called ‘ring forceps’ to clamp the condom and pull it right out,” says Gersh.
“Don’t be embarrassed,” says Inger. “We’ve seen this before!”If you’ve already pulled it out
The condom is out… hooray!
If you didn’t flush the condom in the toilet (P.S. doing so is bad for the environment), go digging in the trash for it so you can really look at it.
Again, you want to make sure there are no missing pieces out of the barrier.What to do next
Once the condom’s out, there’s nothing else that needs to be done right this very second.
However, depending on your and your partner’s current STI status and pregnancy risk, there are a few things you may need to consider within the next 24 to 72 hours — and beyond.Emergency contraception, if needed
You can skip this step if you:
- used the condom on the toy
- agree with your partner about being open to pregnancy
- have or use another form of birth control like an IUD, patch, shot, or implant
- take (meaning reliably take!) an oral contraceptive
- have already gone through menopause
- are infertile
- are already pregnant
Otherwise, know that pregnancy is a risk.
“If the condom slipped off inside you, you have to assume that sperm seeped out and got inside,” says Gersh.
Pregnancy is a risk even if the person with a penis didn’t fully ejaculate, she says.
“While the odds are small, it is possible to get pregnant from pre-ejaculate,” says Gersh. “It’s not impossible.”
If you don’t want to get pregnant, are able to get pregnant, and use condoms as your sole birth control method, Gaither says you may want to consider an over-the-counter emergency contraceptive.
Plan B, for example, can be taken within 72 hours of the Left-Behind Condom Incident. A copper IUD, when inserted by a healthcare provider within 5 days, can also be used in an emergency.Antiretroviral PEP, if needed
If you don’t know already, now’s a good time to ask your partner when they were last tested and what their STI status is.
If taken within 72 hours of possible exposure, PEP can help prevent you from contracting HIV.
Don’t know your partner’s status, don’t trust them c-o-m-p-l-e-t-e-l-y, or don’t want to ask? You may still want to consider PEP.
She recommends discussing it with your doctor.Prophylactic treatment, if needed
“If your partner currently has a bacterial STI that has not yet been treated, you can get treated with a prophylactic dose of antibiotics that can prevent transmission of chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis,” says Gersh.
The exact antibiotics prescribed will depend on your personal allergy history.
“If your partner has herpes, your doctor may prescribe either prophylactic acyclovir or valacyclovir,” says Gersh.
These medications may not prevent transmission of the herpes infection, but they can help prevent an outbreak.
“You want to see a doctor and get these prescribed within 24 to 48 hours of possible infection,” she says.
Again, if you don’t know your partner’s status, you and your doctor may still decide a prophylactic treatment is right for you.STI screening, if needed
Unless you and your partner are already fluid bonded or you’re certain that your partner has no STIs, you should get tested.
“The time between possible infection and when the infection will show up on an STI screening will depend, but you should get cultured about 1 to 2 weeks after possible infection,” says Gersh.
“Get tested too early and you could either falsely test positive because your partner’s sperm is still inside you, or falsely test negative because your body has not yet recognized the STI and produced antibodies in response to it.”Second STI screening, if needed
Because certain STIs take longer for the body to recognize, Gersh says, you should also get tested 2 or 3 months later to confirm the results.
Plus, while all STIs have their own incubation period, STIs like herpes, HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis, and trichomoniasis all take 3 weeks or longer to appear on a test.How to reduce the risk of it happening again
“There are actually quite a few things with condom use that can cause the condom to slip off,” says Gersh.
According to her, these include:
- using an oil-based lube or arousal gel, which degrade the integrity of a latex condom
- using a condom that’s too big or too small
- using condoms that are expired or have been exposed to heat
- the person wearing the condom losing their erection while inside the vagina
- withdrawing too long after ejaculation, once the erection is completely gone
- failing to hold the base of the condom while pulling out
- using too much lube on the inside of the condom
If you suspect your partner is wearing the wrong size condom, you might send them this condom size chart.How to support your partner in this scenario
“Getting a condom stuck in the vagina can be psychologically traumatizing for someone, so instead of shaming or blaming your partner, be supportive,” says Ingber.
This can include being willing to:
- fish for the condom, if asked
- share information about your current STI status, including when you were last tested, if you’ve had sex since then, and what protective measures you took
- talk through potential risk factors for STI-transmission or pregnancy with your partner
- accompany them to the doctor or emergency room, if asked
- pay for (or split) the emergency contraceptive, if asked or your partner cannot afford it
- investigate if there’s anything you could, personally, do to prevent this from happening in the future
- make sure you’ve been wearing the right size condom
Just because condoms sometimes slip off, doesn’t mean you should stop wearing them. Condoms usually slip off because they weren’t used correctly. While it can be scary and stressful to have a condom slip off, know that when used correctly they’re a pretty effective birth control and STI-prevention method. If this incident has piqued your interest in other birth control methods, talk with your healthcare provider.Reference:
Gaither K. (2020). Personal interview.
Gersh F. (2020). Personal interview.
Ingber M. (2020). Personal interview.
Photo Credit: Dainis Graveris