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Condoms Don't Diminish Sexual Pleasure, Study Finds
Date:1/23/2013

By Barbara Bronson Gray
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Try it, you'll like it -- probably more than you think.

With or without a condom, Americans find sex very satisfying, according to a new study that took a peek into the bedrooms of men and women, straight and gay.

"There's this commonly held belief that condom use makes sex feel less natural or pleasurable," said study lead author Debby Herbenick, associate research scientist and co-director for the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University in Bloomington. "But when people use them, sex happens to be great."

The study, published Jan. 23 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, found that in a nationally representative sample of men and women aged 18 to 59, ratings of sex were high, with few differences based on condom or lubricant use. No significant differences were found in men's ability to have erections with or without condoms or lubricants.

Why do condoms seem to get such a bad rap? "There's obviously a power element at play, or everybody would be using a condom," said Dr. Jill Rabin, chief of ambulatory care, obstetrics and gynecology, at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y. "It's a macho thing: You take care of it, you're my possession."

But Rabin, who was not involved with the study, said she thinks it's a myth that men hate to use condoms. "Lots and lots of men like them. The women who don't like them feel it decreases sensation and sensitivity," she said.

Lubricants also are underestimated for their ability to improve sex, said Herbenick. And women of any age may misinterpret the need to use a lubricant as an indication of non-arousal. "I knew a 26-year-old woman who said she dreaded pulling out lubricant," said Herbenick. "She said there needs to be a website that says, 'Younger women need lubricant, too.'"

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