Relational influences on condom use discontinuation: A qualitative study of young adult women in dating relationships

Bolton, Melissa; McKay, Alexander; Schneider, Margaret
October 2010
Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality;2010, Vol. 19 Issue 3, p91
Academic Journal
A large proportion of young people move from one sexually active dating relationship to another over the course of their teen and young adult years. A common behavioural pattern is for dating couples to use condoms the first time they have sex but to discontinue condom use as the relationship progresses and contraceptive pill use increases. A repeated pattern of condom use discontinuation in a series of dating relationships over time places individuals at an increased risk of sexually transmitted infection (STI). This study used qualitative methods to examine and illuminate the psycho-social dynamics of condom use discontinuation within dating relationships. Thirteen young women aged 18-24 currently in dating relationships were surveyed and Interviewed concerning factors influencing condom use decision-making. All of the participants used condoms the first time they had intercourse in the current relationship but over half did not use condoms at most recent intercourse. A number of themes and factors were evident in influencing patterns of condom use including general but unconfirmed assumptions about the monogamous status of the relationship and the partner's sexual history. For many of these young women condom use discontinuation was associated with an enhanced sense of trust, intimacy, and pleasure with the partner and signified a transition to a more formal relationship status. Less than half of the participants had received STI testing but those who had were confident that negative results indicated that they were at low risk for infection. The results suggest specific issues that need to be addressed in sexual health education for teens and young adults.


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