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Sexual Pleasure and Condom Use

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The purpose of the present study was to determine whether sexually-experienced individuals’ pleasure ratings for protected and unprotected vaginal intercourse would be related to actual condom use. College participants (80 women and 35 men, M age = 22.29 years) who reported engaging in vaginal intercourse in the past 3 months completed a questionnaire that assessed their perceptions of the pleasurability of unprotected and condom-protected vaginal intercourse and their own sexual behaviors. Both women and men rated unprotected vaginal intercourse as more pleasurable than protected vaginal intercourse. However, men’s pleasure ratings for unprotected vaginal intercourse were higher than women’s. Furthermore, men and women’s pleasure ratings for condom-protected intercourse were correlated with their actual condom use behaviors. Men’s “pleasure decrement” scores indicated a significantly greater reduction in pleasure ratings between unprotected and protected intercourse than women’s scores. Men who perceived a larger decrease in pleasure between unprotected and protected intercourse were less likely to have used condoms in the past 3 months than those who perceived a smaller decrease in pleasure. The results provide evidence that many people believe that condoms reduce sexual pleasure and that men, in particular, who believe that condoms decrease pleasure are less likely to use them. Condom promotion campaigns should work to emphasize the pleasure-enhancing aspects of condom use.

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This research was supported, in part, by grants T32-MH19985, P30-MH52776, and R01-MH72474 from the National Institute of Mental Health.

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Correspondence to Mary E. Randolph.

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Randolph, M.E., Pinkerton, S.D., Bogart, L.M. et al. Sexual Pleasure and Condom Use. Arch Sex Behav 36, 844–848 (2007).

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