Condoms don't reduce sensation for men, says science

Aug 24, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. ET

Men use many different excuses to forego wearing a condom, but one of the most common is that it will take the wind out of their sails. Or to put it less poetically, they think it will cause them to lose their erection.

This often leaves women feeling guilty — because after all, we don't know what it's like to work with such temperamental machinery down there. However, science, in all its infinite wisdom, has officially proven this fear to be unfounded. According to this new research, if men blame condoms for erectile disfunction, they should really be blaming their own penises.

A study was conducted with 500 heterosexual men between the ages of 18 and 24. About 38 percent said that putting on a condom had no affect on their sexual performance, while another 32 percent said that that's where their sexual disfunction begins. However, according to The Cut, the 32 percent who blamed the condom actually suffered from erectile dysfunction unrelated to condom use.

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The condom/erectile dysfunction relationship is not a commonly researched subject, even though it's a common sexual issue for couples. Dr. Cynthia Graham, coauthor of the study, says in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, "Increasing evidence suggests, however, that they [erectile problems] may influence whether condoms are used correctly or from start to finish of sex."

What she means by this is that there is a psychological component at play when a man with either known or unknown erectile dysfunction tries to put on a condom. He may psych himself out, or the pressure over accomplishing the sexual act he wants to perform may cause his erection to fall before the condom comes out of the wrapper. Thus, he may try to avoid using one altogether.

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It makes perfect sense — they have equipment that has to work in order for the desired act to be achieved, and that in and of itself is nerve-wracking. Now imagine that you have to take your eye off the prize, so to speak, to put on a slippery rubber sleeve that isn't sexy at all. While I'm not trying to reinforce a guy's excuse not to wear a condom, I can understand why they'd want to throw the blame there — because then, if things fall short, the blame doesn't lie entirely with them.

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The research paper flat out states this concern. "Men who first experience loss of erection when they use condoms might worry about [difficulty] experiencing erections more generally and hence be more vulnerable [to erectile problems]." It's a vicious cycle of a problem, and the researchers point to lack of understanding around the actual condom application as one of its roots.

They found that more than a third of the men surveyed had never learned how to put on a condom correctly. That lack of know-how could easily contribute to anxiety-rooted erectile dysfunction. Thus, blaming the condom comes down to men's fear of being vulnerable, and admitting that they might have a physical or emotional problem. However, until men receive better sexual eduction, and/or stop looking to throw blame elsewhere, the number of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies will continue to rise.

In the meantime, ladies, if your guy says 'no' to condom use, you have the right to say 'no' to sex despite the guilt you may feel.

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