all things condoms

Study Highlights Condom Turn-offs

Posted by Condomologist on March 12, 2009

A recent study done by the fellows at the Kinsey Institute and published in the International Journal of STD & AIDS  takes a look at condom turn-offs as expressed by both men and women, and it finds that turn-offs are commonly related to decreased sexual pleasure and there are striking similarities amongst men and women in the ways in which they’re turned off. The turn-offs are both physical and psychological, and they are more common than (I’m guessing) most of the pro sex-ed crowd would like to believe. I hate to belabor this point, but it’s due time we recognize the extent to which increasing pleasure must be incorporated into sex ed messages. That said, as William Yarber, one of the researchers and co-authors of the study, explains in detail here , what’s notable and revelatory to me is the extent to which women suffer when it comes to sex with condoms.


There’s so much focus on just one gender when it comes to contraception — female condoms for women, male condoms for men, hormonal BC for women — that we often lose sight of the fact that it takes two to tango (except for masturbation, and thank God we have that to fall back on), or at least the tango is spicier when two are relaxed and on the same page. And I can at least speak for myself knowing that sex just ain’t that good for me if my partner isn’t pleased as well. If the receptive partner doesn’t like the sensation of the condom, then it’s a problem for the both of them. If a woman has decreased sex drive because she’s on the pill, it’s an issue for the man too. If sex doesn’t feel right for a man putting his penis in a female condom, they need to work together to make it better. Problems then arise when these turn-offs lead to more risky sex, because people just say, Screw it, and put on a condom mid-sex, take it off mid-sex, or leave it off altogether. So we as sexual health educators must be better versed in the ways in which these turn-offs  can be remedied, if only slightly. (Hint: Lube and condom experimentation are good places to start. I know, big surprise.) And we can thank the condom team behind this study for their ongoing dedication across the globe, digging deeper when it comes to all things condoms.


3 Responses to “Study Highlights Condom Turn-offs”

  1. Dare said

    Thank you Jonathan! If I could manage to get my hands on this article (full text), I was going to send it to you, but none of my connections seem to be able to get this journal. Another point I would make that is often overlooked and I’ve found to be very seldom talked about is actual erection issues for men using condoms. There is such a reluctance to discuss it on the part of both genders because of embarrassment both by the fact of the soft penis and also by the decision to forgo the condom because the man couldn’t maintain the erection with it on. I would love to hear other girls on the subject, but I think it’s difficult for most of us to insist on condom use when it’s obvious that he physically can’t do it with a condom on.

    • Jonathan said

      I’m working on getting the full text through someone at Penn. I’ll let you know if I can score it. As for erection issues, I think it’s an important discussion to be had and one we’ve discussed before. So what’s the answer to that predicament? First it would have to be determined whether it’s truly not physically possible for the guy to get it up, or whether it’s something psychological — like, say, he had so much trouble in his younger days getting the condom on that he’d always go soft before it was rolled down, and now he makes that connection every time to condoms leading to going soft. In much the same way so much of the literature around premature ejaculation says that it happens repeatedly because we associate new experiences with old ones where we cum right away and become anxious and worried and it happens all over again…and again. And it would be interesting to look at what happens with those men who can’t keep it up with a condom on when they try using a female condom with their partner. Do they still go soft? Like you said, research should be done on this to get to the bottom of what we agree is something that happens often enough to be studied further. And an important component of this issue, and many others in the bedroom, is, like you said, communication and how different levels of ability to discuss sensitive topics — often in the heat of the moment — either hinder or improve condom use.

  2. […] a six-pack, and have the most mind-blowing sex of all time — and they took a gander at the condom turn-off study I recently discussed. Alongside a very brief overview of some of the findings, they provide some […]

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