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How to Know If Sperm Leaked Out of Condom

Having semen leak out of your condom can happen and is not a medical concern. Semen can leak from a man’s penis during nocturnal emissions (wet dreams) or when a partner accidentally grazes a condom with teeth.

It’s also possible to get pregnant from sperm leaking out of the tip of a condom during sexual intercourse. But fortunately, there are many ways to prevent this from happening.

1. Look at the end of the condom.

When a condom tears, semen (which contains millions of sperm cells) leaks into the vagina and ascends up the fallopian tube. The sperm can then enter the female’s egg and result in pregnancy. That’s why it’s so important to use a condom correctly, but that doesn’t always happen. In fact, “condoms are the number one reason I get phone calls from friends in the middle of the night,” a fertility expert tells SELF.

There are a few common condom-use mistakes that can lead to breakage and sperm leakage:

1. Forgetting to pinch the tip

Remember to grab the little reservoir tip at the end of the condom, which isn’t just there for looks, per Nemours Teen Health. Keeping it pinched removes air from the condom and gives room for the fluid to go during ejaculation. (Remember Hannah’s freakout on Girls?) If you forget to pinch the tip, pressure can cause it to leak out the base of the condom after the man ejaculates, letting sperm and other fluid out with it.

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Also, make sure to only use water-based lubricants with latex or polyurethane condoms; oil-based lubricants can damage them and increase the chances of a break. And finally, it’s a good idea to always check the condom for any signs of breakage before using it (not just after). Microtears, which aren’t visible to the naked eye, can still let viruses and sperm through, but that’s extremely rare.

2. Look at your partner’s penis.

A condom may leak during sexual intercourse if it is too small or not lubricated enough. It can also break due to friction or if it hits a sharp edge. In some cases, you can see the breakage, but in others, it is more subtle and requires closer inspection.

Another way a condom can leak is when your partner doesn’t pull it out right after they finish sex. This can cause the condom to fall off the penis, depositing precum and semen where it shouldn’t be. This puts both partners at risk for pregnancy and STIs. So be sure to always take the condom off quickly (while holding it at the base of the penis) and put a new one on afterward.

It is also important to remember that if semen seeps out of the condom and into the vagina, it is not a pregnancy concern. This is common during sexual arousal and is usually caused by pre-ejaculate, or “pre-cum,” which is released during an orgasm before the full climax.

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3. Look at the bottom of the condom.

Condoms can be a great tool to help prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, but they aren’t 100 percent effective. Sometimes they break, leak or slip off. If this happens, there are ways to find out if sperm leaked out.

Most of the time, when a condom breaks during sexual activity it’s because of friction or improper lubrication. But it can also happen because of ejaculation. If a condom ruptures during ejaculation, semen can seep out of the condom and into the vagina. Semen can also leak out of the penis when you become aroused, a process called pre-ejaculate or pre-cum. This fluid serves as a lubricant for sex and balances the urethra’s acidity to allow sperm to enter the body.

The best way to reduce your risk of condom breakage is to make sure that you use a brand that has been sterile for at least six months and that it’s the correct size for your partner. Also, don’t forget to check the expiration date and to open the condom carefully so that you don’t accidentally rip it open.

You can also keep your chances of getting pregnant low by using other forms of birth control. The pill and IUD are both a good alternative to condoms. You can get them without a prescription at many pharmacies and Family Planning clinics.

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4. Pull the condom out.

Whether you’re the one who got stuck up there or your partner, it’s important to get that condom out ASAP. “The vaginal canal only extends about 10 to 12 centimeters up, so most people can usually reach the top of the condom and pull it out,” says urologist and female pelvic medicine specialist Michael Ingber. However, he warns against using any sharp tools inside your body (like tweezers or even just your nails) because they may scrape up the lining of your vagina and increase your risk for infection. Instead, he recommends getting into a seated missionary position and using two clean fingers to hook the condom out of your vagina.

It’s also a good idea to have your partner do the same with his hands, in case you can’t grab the base of the condom yourself. He should use his index finger and thumb, squeezing the sides of the condom together until it’s loose enough to slide out. If you can’t reach the condom, try standing up or squatting to give yourself more room.

In the worst case scenario, if you really can’t get the condom out, you can head to your gynecologist or an emergency room for help. They can perform a pelvic exam with a speculum to see if the condom can be removed manually. And, if you do find yourself with a little piece of latex up there for a few days, remember that it’s not going to cause pregnancy, just make sure you and your partner take some Plan B within 72 hours to be extra safe.