Ill-fitting condoms undermine use, STD protection

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Wearing a condom that doesn’t fit correctly—is too big, for example—may increase the chances of the condom breaking, slipping or coming off or being taken off during intercourse, increasing the risk for sexually transmitted infections, according to a study from researchers at the College of Public Health at the University of Kentucky. The research, which included 436 adult men who regularly used condoms for vaginal intercourse, found that the nearly half—some 45%—reported having worn ill-fitting condoms. Those who had used poorly fitting prophylactics were significantly more likely to report higher incidences of condoms breaking or slipping during intercourse, increasing the risk for exposure to sexually transmitted infections. Additionally, researchers found that men who regularly used too big condoms, or condoms that otherwise didn’t fit correctly, were more likely to report diminished sexual satisfaction, including trouble reaching orgasm—for both themselves and their partners. The findings suggest a need for both more education about properly fitting condoms, and improved design and availability of a wider variety of condom sizes and fits, the authors say.

The study, published this week in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, recruited 436 men through newspaper advertisements and a post on a condom company website. All of the men were between the ages of 18 and 67 years old, and reported using condoms for penile-vaginal intercourse in the previous three months. Data was collected through a questionnaire posted on the website of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. Of the 436 men included in the study, 195—or 44.7%—said that they had used an ill-fitting condom in the past.