Created for Greatist by the experts at Healthline. Read more

Maybe the condom just fell off during sex, or you’re about to melt into a puddle of cuddles and oxytocin when you realize … the condom is nowhere to be found. And not only is it missing, but the condom is stuck inside your vagina. Um, haaaalp!

Do you just yank it out? And what if it’s really up there? Have no fear, we’ve talked to the experts to answer all your questions about getting a stuck condom out of your vag.

First of all, don’t freak out if there’s a condom stuck inside your vagina. You’re not the first person this has ever happened to, we promise. And technically, it’s not actually stuck, it’s just hanging out in there. You can and will get it out of your vag.

“Good news — the condom cannot get lost inside the pelvic cavity, but rather can be lodged at the very top of the vagina and go unnoticed,” says Dr. Alyssa Dweck of CareMount Medical in Westchester County, New York.

Your vaginal canal stops at your cervix so a condom can’t really go any higher than a penis or sex toy would.

So, no, it’s not lost up there forever. Now all you have to do is get it out.

No need to grab a flashlight and helmet — this is not a spelunking expedition! Just try pulling the stuck condom out of your vagina yourself.

If you haven’t been to yoga in a while, don’t worry about flexibility. Reaching in to pull out a rogue condom isn’t that different from pulling out a tampon.

“If you can reach it, it’s fine to use your fingers and remove the condom from your vagina,” says Dr. Leena S. Nathan, an obstetrician-gynecologist at UCLA Health. “Make sure the condom comes out completely and no pieces are left behind.”

So, wash your hands, relax your body, and go at your own pace. Your comfort zone is what’s most important! You know your own body best, but if you prefer a hand (no pun intended), you can ask a partner or a close friend to assist.

Can a condom get left inside you… like forever?

Permanently? No. Your body will let you know that it’s in there.

You may feel irritation in your vagina or have an unusual discharge or odor, Dr. Dweck notes. You’ll want to get that stuck condom pulled out ASAP.

Definitely don’t insert anything in your vagina other than fingers to get that condom out.

“I don’t recommend anyone other than your gynecologist or healthcare provider reach in with anything else because an injury can occur,” says Dr. Dweck. Noted: A scrape or scratch on your vaginal wall is not what you need right now.

If you can’t reach the condom on your own, see your healthcare provider. There’s no need to go to the ER. This isn’t an emergency. Your gyno is the ideal person to help, but your GP may be able to help, too. Just make sure to explain your situation when you make the appointment!

If you end up at the gyno, your doc will reach inside you, just like when they perform a pelvic exam, possibly using a speculum to retrieve the missing condom.

The good news is that your rogue condom has been removed. The not-so-good-news? You may need to think about emergency contraception and STI testing.

What’s your pregnancy risk?

If your condom falls off during sex, it is sex without a barrier method. That means you are at risk for an unplanned pregnancy.

“Consider taking Plan B if you are not on any contraception,” says Dr. Nathan. Emergency contraception (EC) can prevent an unintended pregnancy if taken within 72 hours after sex without a barrier method. It’s more effective the sooner you take it.

Plan B One-Step is a type of EC that’s available over-the-counter at pharmacies and drugstores across the U.S. There is no age requirement for purchase, but typically it costs around $50. There are other EC products available as well.

Check with your state’s laws to see if your pharmacist can dispense other emergency contraception without a physician’s prescription.

What should you do about STIs?

“If the condom comes off in the vagina, please do go get tested for sexually transmitted disease,” says Dr. Nathan.

While it’s super important to talk about your STI status with your partner(s) before having sex. It’s still a good idea to get tested for STIs anyway.

If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, you can get a prescription for emergency retroviral drugs called post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP. PEP should be taken within 72 hours of possible exposure and as close to exposure as possible.

You may end up taking PEP for about a month, and you’ll want to follow up the regimen with an HIV test.

Other potential infections from sex without a barrier method include HPV, genital herpes, genital warts, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. It may take time for these infections to be present in your body.

This chart can tell you the ideal time to be tested:

STIWhen to get tested (after exposure)
Chlamydiaat least 2 weeks
Gonorrheaat least 2 weeks
Syphilisat 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months
Genital wartsif symptoms appear
Genital herpesat least 3 weeks
HIVat least 3 weeks

These infections have various symptoms. If you have any of the following symptoms, take note and tell your healthcare provider about them immediately:

  • green, yellow or pus-like genital discharge
  • abdominal pain
  • pain in your testicles
  • inflammation of your cervix
  • itchiness/rash
  • warts on your genitals, anus, or elsewhere (for genital warts)
  • sores on your genitals, anus, or mouth (for syphilis and genital herpes)
  • pain during sex
  • burning sensation while peeing
  • discharge or pain in your anus
  • bleeding from your anus

But you may also experience no symptoms and won’t know if you have an infection unless you get tested.

One last thing!

Do 👏 NOT 👏 douche 👏. Douching won’t prevent STI transmission. And, douching is just all bad in general.

“The most common reason that a condom falls off is that the penis is no longer erect,” says Dr. Dweck. A penis becomes flaccid after ejaculation. It can also go flaccid if the person is no longer sexually stimulated or is feeling tired.

A condom should fit snugly around an erect penis, but it may slip off when that penis isn’t standing at attention. “Once the penis gets soft, the condom will more easily fall off and be left inside the vagina,” Dr. Dweck adds.

“A condom can also come off if it hasn’t been put on correctly (i.e., rolling the condom all the way down the shaft),” says Dr. Nathan.

Size matters, too. “If the condom is larger than it should be, it could slip off,” she explains. It’s important to wear the right size condom since a condom that’s too large can slip off during sex.

If you’re the partner with a penis, sound the alarm as soon as you realize the condom is MIA! The partner with a vagina will appreciate it. Here’s how else you can help:

  • Stay calm.
  • Try to help gently remove the missing condom, if requested.
  • Share your STI status and offer to get tested.
  • Accompany your partner to the ER or to the doctor, if requested.
  • Discuss with your partner how you may deal with an unintended pregnancy.
  • Share the cost of emergency contraception, if requested.
  • Share the cost of a pregnancy test, if requested.
  • Review how this happened in the first place. Was the condom put on improperly? Was the condom too large?
  • Follow through on your promise of STI testing, payment, or both.

Here are a couple tips for the future:

  • Make sure to wear the proper size condom.
  • Use lube that doesn’t break down condoms.
  • If the penis is going flaccid (and staying flaccid) while in the vagina, hold the condom at the base of the penis, pull out and try outercourse to get it erect up again. That way you won’t risk the condom slipping off and getting lost if the penis stays soft.
  • Always hold the condom at the base on the penis as the penis is pulling out. (This will help prevent you from spilling semen, too!)
  • Get in the habit of removing condoms right after intercourse.

It’s tempting to cuddle right after sex — but just take 3 seconds to remove the condom first and you can save yourself a (figurative) headache!