Contraceptives can heighten sexual pleasure for women

December 9th, 2008 - 2:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 9 (IANS) Condoms are believed to diminish sexual pleasure, but those who use both hormonal contraception and condoms, experience higher overall satisfaction. A Kinsey Institute study suggested that this inconsistency reflects how women think about their contraceptive method when queried about two different aspects of sexuality — enjoyment and overall satisfaction.

“The public health community has paid little attention to women’s sexual experiences with contraceptive methods, especially condoms,” said Stephanie Sanders, associate director of the Kinsey Institute and a co-author of the study.

“If women think condoms detract from sexual pleasure, they may be less inclined to use them consistently.”

When considering overall sexual satisfaction, which goes beyond the immediate sexual moment and includes factors such as sexual self-esteem and relationship satisfaction, women who used both condoms and hormonal methods reported the highest levels of sexual satisfaction.

On the other hand, when asked directly about the effect of contraceptive methods on sexual enjoyment, women who used condoms, either alone or with hormonal methods, were far more likely to experience decreased pleasure, suggesting that condoms make sex less pleasurable.

Those who used only hormonal methods like the birth control pill, were unlikely to associate their method with decreased sexual pleasure, according to a Kinsey release.

The study, seeking to investigate about contraceptive methods and women’s sexuality — an area largely ignored by researchers — found that only four percent women who relied on hormonal methods of contraception reported decreased pleasure, but hormonal users reported the lowest overall sexual satisfaction scores.

Conversely, 23 percent women who used both condoms and hormonal methods reported decreased pleasure but had the highest sexual satisfaction scores.

Women who used condoms alone or along with a hormonal method were six to seven times more likely to report decreased sexual enjoyment compared to those who used hormonal methods only.

Women with no history of a sexually transmitted infection were more than twice as likely to report that their method decreased sexual pleasure.

Other authors of the study include Jenny Higgins of Princeton University, Susie Hoffman of Columbia University and Cynthia Graham of Oxford University.

These findings were published in November’s issue of Sexual Health.

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