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Condoms and Pleasure

Author: Indiana University

 

(HealthNewsDigest.com) – An examination of condom use "turn offs" found that women reported similar problems related to pleasure as men. "This counters the belief that only men have problems with condoms relative to pleasure and orgasm," said William L. Yarber, senior director of the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention at Indiana University and a senior research fellow of the Kinsey Institute.

 

"It shows that condom use is nearly as much an issue for women as for men. Hence, educational efforts need to be directed at both genders. Most of the physical and psychological turn offs can be dealt with educationally and aren't so much associated with the condom itself, like its taste or smell." When condoms are used correctly and consistently they are highly effective in preventing unplanned pregnancies and reducing the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

 

Yarber is part of a Kinsey Institute-affiliated research team that has published more than 20 research articles as the team explores issues associated with condom misuse. This is the first study, however, that assessed specific "turn offs" related to condom use among men and women. Yarber said understanding the influence of pleasure, in addition to such issues as convenience and comfort of condom use, is critical because problems involving pleasure and orgasm could deter both genders from using condoms. "If something is a significant barrier to pleasure, this has to be addressed," he said. The article, "Condom 'turn offs' among adults: an exploratory study," was published in the International Journal of STD & AIDS.

 

More about the study:

The study involved survey responses from 464 men and women, average age 35, who reported that condoms were a cause of physical or psychological turn off the last time they were used.

 

Regardless of gender, age, education and marital status, three related turn offs were commonly reported: condoms just don't feel right, condoms decrease 'my' sensation, and condoms decrease 'my partner's' sensation.

 

The researchers found no gender difference in responses to four questions addressing arousal and orgasm problems reported by respondents -- regarding themselves and their partners.

 

Participants were recruited from an electronic mailing list for a large, Internet-based company that sells sexual enhancement products. Of the 883 participants who reported having penile-vaginal sex the last time they used condoms during the previous three months, 54 percent of the women and 52 percent of the men reported that condoms were a cause of physical or psychological turn offs the last time they were used.

 

Yarber and his colleagues say education can address many of these turn offs. Teaching people to use more lubrication, for example, could help address the issue of discomfort, a problem reported primarily by women. "We have tradeoffs in condom use," Yarber said. "They're using condoms for protection from STIs and unplanned pregnancies, but there are problems with comfort and sexual pleasure. You have to look at the gains verses what's given up. We really have to emphasize the gains and encourage couples in their own way to eroticize condom use with the goal of avoiding or minimizing the problems."

 

Co-authors include Richard Crosby, RCAP, the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, and the College of Public Health at the University of Kentucky; Robin Milhausen, RCAP, The Kinsey Institute and University of Guelph, Ontario; Stephanie A. Sanders, RCAP, Kinsey Institute and Department of Gender Studies at IU; and Cynthia A. Graham, RCAP, The Kinsey Institute and University of Oxford, U.K.

 

To learn more about the Kinsey Institute-affiliated research team that is exploring condom use issues, visit http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/newsletter/fall2008print/KITodayFall08.pdf.

 

Journal citation: "Condom 'turn offs' among adults: an exploratory study," International Journal of STD & AIDS 2008; 19: 590-594.

 

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