September 11, 2007

Condoms: One Size Doesn’t Fit All!

New research about condom fit and feel from IU's Center for Sexual Health Promotion (formerly Sexual Health Working Group).

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Read the results of an IU study on size-to-fit condoms at the IU Living Well webpage here

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

When men say condoms don’t fit, some might just be telling the truth. Health professionals are regularly confronted by men’s complaints that condoms do not fit, or that they are uncomfortable. Correct condom use is critical for preventing unwanted pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmissible infections (STI), yet an Indiana University study found that study participants who reported problems with the fit and feel of condoms were also among those who reported the highest rates of condoms breaking and slipping.

“Most recent research has focused on how people use condoms with little attention to the physical characteristics of condoms themselves,” said Michael Reece, director of the Sexual Health Research Working Group and an associate professor in Indiana University Bloomington’s Department of Applied Health Science. “Our recent research, however, indicates that sizes and shapes of the penis vary widely, but the range of condom sizes is rather limited; so it could very well be the case that there are aspects of the traditional condom that some men find too tight or too loose, influencing their ability or desire to use them during sexual encounters.”

Discussing penis size or condom issues with a healthcare practitioner can be challenging, so Reece and his colleagues have developed a questionnaire that can help physicians and those working in sexual health programs such as HIV clinics engage men in these conversations. They might be able to direct the men to condoms that better meet their specific needs.

“Our ‘Condom Fit and Feel Scale’ offers a way for men to express in a confidential way to health care providers the exact concerns that they have with condoms related to length, width and tightness or looseness,” said Debby Herbenick, associate director of SHRWG and research associate in the Department of Applied Health Science. Reece, Herbenick and Brian Dodge, associate director of SHRWG and research associate in the Department of Applied Health Science, describe the scale in a recently published article in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.”

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