My brother had sex with his girlfriend. They used a condom, but now she’s pregnant. What happened?

Condoms can be a great method of birth control when used correctly. They’re cheap, easy to find, and can prevent the transmission of some STIs. However, it’s important to realize that condoms—like any birth control method—aren’t 100% effective.

When used correctly, they can be up to 98% effective. With typical use, however, condoms are only 82% effective.  That’s because many people aren’t using them correctly.  While it’s possible your brother’s condom failed for manufacturing reasons, it’s also possible he forgot to check the expiration date, used two at once, or chose the wrong kind of lubricant.  Many of the reasons condoms fail aren’t intuitive—so a person who has taught himself to use a condom might not know some of the things to avoid.

In some school districts, health classes are a safe place to learn to use a condom correctly. Don’t hesitate to ask your teacher (or a visiting sexual health educator) to explain the process in detail. If your school has different educational standards or you don’t feel comfortable, consider visiting Teen Clinic. One of our health professionals can work with you one-on-one to make sure you know everything you need to. You can also check out this website if you are looking for an anonymous way to check your facts.

When it comes to pregnancy prevention, it’s a great idea to combine methods.  Using a hormonal birth control method and condoms gives you a back-up in case something goes wrong.  Teen Clinic offers free birth control to anyone under 20, so make sure your sexually active friends know it’s a good idea to make an appointment and choose a reliable method.

It’s smart that you’re looking to learn from your brother’s experience! Thanks for asking this great question.