You know how people (ahem, frequently dudes) are like, “Sex doesn’t feel as good with condoms?” Well, according to a recent study, they’re wrong. At Indiana University’s Center For Sexual Health Promotion, researchers have found that condoms are not a “barrier” (like that pun?!) to good sex.
Using data gathered in 2009, Debby Herbenick and colleagues looked at information from 1,645 men and women ages 18 to 59 whose most recent sexual event included intercourse. Nearly 28% of men and 22% of women said that they’d used condoms. Researchers found that the people who used condoms did not report differences in sexual arousal, orgasm, ease of erection and other indicators of overall pleasure in relation to people who didn’t use condoms.
Now, obviously people’s personal experiences may differ from the findings of the study, but I think it’s telling that people were overall satisfied with their sexual experiences using condoms, especially because I think there’s a definite cultural idea amongst both men and women that condoms make sex worse. Herbenick says that even at ages 13 and 14, males learn that condoms “wreck pleasure” and so they are less likely to have good feelings about them as they begin their sexually-active lives. I can remember back to my teenage years pretty well and my personal experience definitely jibes with her findings. I know not everyone is reluctant to use condoms because of fear of reduced pleasure or sensation, but it is undoubtedly a societal trope.
Strangely, some of the funding for the study was given by Church & Dwight Co. Inc., the company that makes Trojan brand condoms. But Herbenick insists that “the data is the data” and that the parent company didn’t influence the study results at all.
The study also found that men who used lubricant with a condom (especially lubricant applied inside the condom) reported more enjoyment than men who did not use a lubricant with a condom. So, in other words: use a lubricant with your condom to maintain high levels of arousal and pleasure, men.
Herbenick also said that the majority of people who use condoms are younger people, who might often just think any sex is good, regardless of whether a barrier method is used or not. She continued:
“Yes, for many young people, they’re just excited to have it, but it feels good for most people most of the time. We see that in measurement studies of good sex feeling that are controlled for age. Sex feels pretty good, or we wouldn’t keep on having it.”
I mean, I can’t argue with that, can I? Sex is good and good feelings are good and you can still have good sex feelings when you and your partner use a condom. Lesson learned!