Condoms and Pregnancy

conceptionThe failure rate of condoms in preventing pregnancy is 14% with typical use.1

Typical use means that if you take an average couple in the U.S. that is committed to using condoms, within 1 year 14% of those couples become pregnant.  This could be due to inconsistent use, incorrect use, or condom breakage and slippage.

Some groups prefer reporting the failure rate of condoms in terms of “perfect use.”  Perfect use refers to using a condom consistently and correctly before every act of sexual contact.  It recognizes only the failures that are due to condom defects, and does not take into account human errors, accidents or inconsistencies.  The failure rate for pregnancy with perfect use is approximately 3%.2

In reality there are a variety of factors that contribute to condom failure, and failure rates vary from couple to couple.

The typical use category currently reflects the behavior of most condom users.  Therefore, we believe it is the most realistic assessment of condom failure.

Failure Rate Statistics Provided By
15% 4parents.gov3
14% Medical Institute for Sexual Health4
11% FDA5
10-20% U.S. National Library of Medicine6

Related topics:
Read more about pregnancy



  1. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, July 20, 2001.
  2. Ibid.
  3., “Contraception,” n.d.
  4. Medical Institute for Sexual Health, “Do Condoms Make Sex Safe Enough?” 2003.
  5. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “Birth Control Guide,” updated Dec. 2003.
  6. U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Medical Encyclopedia: Condoms,” updated 5/24/2006.