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Condom link to unsafe sex and erection loss 

New research published in Sexual Health magazine suggests that men need to understand both how condoms work and how erections work if they are to have safer sex.

Condoms were directly linked with erection problems in the research which was reported in New Scientist.

Researchers from the Kinsey Institute say:

  • the nervous excitement of sex with a new partner,
  • ill-fitting condoms and
  • men's lack of confidence in condom application

can lead to high levels of erection loss.

Men experiencing erection loss are 'more likely going to take condoms off before sex is over or not use condoms altogether,' says Cynthia Graham, Associate Research Fellow at Kinsey Institute for Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University and clinical psychologist at the University of Oxford. 'They just give up on condom use because they know they are not going to have reliable erections, and this puts them and their partners at risk as they then have unprotected sex.'

Graham and colleagues surveyed 278 men attending a sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinic in the US. All had used a condom for sex at least three times in the prior three months.

The researchers found that 37% of men had at least one erection loss either while applying condoms or during sex in the previous three months. Men who reported erection loss had more unprotected sex over the study period — an average of 10.6 times, versus 7.0 times for those with no erection loss.

And 40% of men with erection loss reported removing condoms before sex was over — twice as many as those with no erection problems.

The more partners the greater the erection problem. Men who had three or more sexual partners over the study period were all almost twice as likely to lose their erections. Men who didn't know how to use condoms proerly were also twice as likely to lose their erection.

Men who had multiple partners were probably having sex with new partners, which can increase anxiety and lead to erection loss, says Graham.

Though improved condom education is key, especially for a high risk population attending an STI clinic, the issue is bigger, says Graham. 'We know that a lot of men aren't aware that it is usual to lose your erection. So it's not just education about proper condom use, it's about men's sexuality. No man is completely invincible, even younger men. It's how they respond to erection loss that is important.'

Page created on November 1st, 2006

Page updated on December 1st, 2009