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Relationships Between Condoms, Hormonal Methods, and Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction: An Exploratory Analysis From the Women's Well-Being and Sexuality Study

February 10, 2009

The authors introduced the study by noting that little is known about how condoms and other contraceptives influence women's sexual enjoyment, which could shape use patterns. They used data from the online Women's Well-Being and Sexuality Study to examine how three categories of contraceptive use -- hormonal method only, condoms primarily, and dual use -- could help predict decreased sexual pleasure associated with contraceptive method and overall sexual satisfaction in the preceding four weeks.

In analyses controlling for age, relationship length, and other variables, male condoms were most strongly associated with decreased pleasure, whether they were used alone or with hormonal methods. While women who used hormonal methods only were least likely to report decreased pleasure, they also had significantly lower overall scores of sexual satisfaction when compared with the other two groups. The highest sexual satisfaction scores were reported by women who used both condoms and a hormonal method.

"Because male condoms were viewed by many women as decreasing sexual pleasure, sexual risk practices are likely to be affected," the authors concluded. "Although hormonal only users were highly unlikely to report decreased pleasure, they reported lower sexual satisfaction compared with the other two groups. Dual users, who had the highest sexual satisfaction scores, may have been the most sexually satisfied because they felt more fully protected against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmissible infections -- consistent with previous qualitative documentation of 'eroticizing safety.' This exploratory study suggests that different contraceptives affect sexuality in various ways, warranting further research into these sexual dimensions and how they influence contraceptive practices."

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Adapted from:
Sexual Health
11.2008; Vol. 5; No. 4: P. 321-330; Jenny A. Higgins; Susie Hoffman; Cynthia A. Graham; Stephanie A. Sanders

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
What Did You Expect While You Were Expecting?
HIV/AIDS Resource Center for Women
Contraceptives & HIV


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