Men Aren't Only to Blame: Young Women Resist Condom Use as Well

As is the case with men, women have various reasons for not using condoms, according to new research. William B. Plowman/Getty images

There's been much public health research about the millions of excuses men come up with to avoid condom use. However, new research suggests that heterosexual women are also culpable of promoting this risky bedroom behavior.

A study published in the October issue of The Journal of Sex Research on 235 heterosexual women finds roughly half of women took some sort of action to avoid condom use with a partner. The study is based on self-reported questionnaires from women aged 18 to 21 and used an adapted version of the Condom Use Resistance Survey initially developed to study men's behaviors and beliefs about unprotected sex. The revised questionnaire asked female participants about their sexual history and condom use since age 14.

The researchers found roughly half of women in the study engaged in unprotected sex. Nearly 40 percent of women who fell into this group said they downplayed the risks with their male partners, while 33 percent said they used "seduction tactics," which the authors described as getting a man sexually aroused enough that he gave into her request for unprotected sex. Roughly 3 percent of women in the study avoided condom use through manipulation, such as withholding sex or actually destroying the condom.

Women listed a number of reasons for resisting condom use, many of which were the same typically heard from men. These included claims that sex with condoms isn't as pleasurable or concern that their partner would have trouble maintaining an erection with a condom on.

A new study suggests some women also negotiate their way out of condom use. Tomas Bravo/REUTERS

The study found that women who convinced men to forgo protection were more likely to be under the influence of alcohol. They were also more likely to have a lower perceived risk for sexually transmitted infections, as well as a history of STIs.

This isn't the first research to examine women's risky contraceptive behaviors. Another study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, finds women who have a history of condom use often stop using them once beginning a form of hormonal contraceptive, such as pills, patches or rings. The study found that condom use decreased 27 percent once women began using hormonal forms of birth control. While these contraceptive methods do prevent unwanted pregnancy, they do not protect a person from STIs.

A large body of research has already determined that men employ all types of underhanded tactics to avoid using protection in both casual and monogamous relationships with women, including direct requests to skip the latex, reassuring a partner that they're disease-free, and even deception, such as pretending to put one on or removing it without the partner's knowledge. A national survey suggests that more than a third of young heterosexual men have successfully avoided condom use through verbal coercion or physical force.