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Condom Use Dependent on Couple’s Characteristics

Update Date: Mar 12, 2014 11:32 AM EDT

Condoms were created to protect people from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) while preventing unwanted pregnancies at the same time. Agencies and experts stress the importance of using condoms especially for people engaging in risky sexual behaviors, such as having multiple partners. In a new Dutch study, researchers focused on condom use in relationships. They found that condom use is highly dependent on the nature of the couple's characteristics as opposed to the individual partners involved.

"As physicians we focus more on the individual . . . [but based on the study findings] we probably should address more the type of relationship our patients are going to be involved in," commented Dr. Luu Ireland from the University of California Los Angeles's (UCLA) department of obstetrics and gynecology. Ireland was not a part of the study.

For this study headed by Amy Matser from the Public Health Service of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, the researchers interviewed 2,144 participants who were all under 25-years-old. Women made up of a little over half of the sample set. The participants had visited a STI clinic in the city from May through to August 2010. The researchers asked them about their sexual behaviors with their most recent sexual partners. All together, the team had collected data on 6,401 partnerships.

The researchers calculated that in the group of causal relationships, 33.5 percent out of 4,014 partnerships reported using condoms frequently. In the group of people in steady relationships, 14 percent used condoms regularly. For couples that used condoms inconsistently, the researchers named several contributing factors, which were duration of the partnership, ethnicities of the individuals, sex-related drug use and participation in anal sex.

"We found that when partners are more familiar with each other and when they are more alike, inconsistent condom use becomes more prevalent," Matser stated reported by Reuters Health. "We should rethink of our current prevention strategies to promote condom use to see whether these methods are sufficiently capable of increasing awareness of the risk of acquiring STIs from partners who are more familiar."

The researchers also looked into individual traits and condom use. They reported that people who were less educated tended to use condoms less consistently in comparison to people who had a university degree.

The team stated that using condoms consistently is vital in preventing the spread of STIs. People who engaged in more experimental sex acts, such as drug use and anal sex, need to start using condoms to protect themselves and others.

The study was published in the journal, Sexually Transmitted Infections.

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