• Open Access

Sex in Australia: Experience of condom failure among a representative sample of men


Centre for Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX, United Kingdom. Fax: +44 20 7631 6312; e-mail: r.devisser@psychology.bbk.ac.uk


Objective Condom use is a central part of strategies to prevent the transmission of human immunodeficiency virus and other sexually transmissible infections. The objective of this study was to provide reliable estimates of the prevalence and correlates of condom failure among a representative sample of Australian men.

MethodsComputer-assisted telephone interviews were completed by a representative sample of 10,173 men aged 16–59 years from all States and Territories. The response rate was 69.4%.

Results: Among men who used condoms in the year prior to being interviewed, 23.8% experienced at least one condom breakage in the past year and 18.1% experienced at least one condom slippage in the past year. Experience of condom breakage in the past year was significantly related to younger age, having a blue-collar occupation, and using more condoms. Neither condom slippage nor condom failure was significantly related to use of water-based lubricants or oil-based lubricants.

Conclusion Condom failure is related to certain characteristics of individuals and is not randomly distributed across all condom users. Lubricant use did not affect condom failure.

Implications: There may not be a need to promote lubricant use for vaginal intercourse, as there was no association between lubricant use and condom failure.