These Researchers Want To Pay You To Use Condoms

These Researchers Want To Pay You To Use Condoms

The Indiana University Kinsey Institute Condom Use Research Team is working on interventions to increase pleasure through latex.
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Her bra was unhooked. His pants were unzipped. Their intertwined bodies rocked to the rhythm of the Spotify sex playlist. “We have to stop,” Shri Amarnath said, interrupting the heat of the moment. “I don’t have a condom.”

It was a one-night stand and Amarnath wasn’t going to risk having to take plan-B a second time. “I didn’t want to take the chance,” the 21-year-old Indiana University student said. “I wasn’t trying to make babies with a stranger or get diseases from him.”

Refusing to have sex without a condom makes Amarnath somewhat of an anomaly. Only one in four vaginal sexual acts are protected by condoms, according to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior Promotion, conducted by researchers at Indiana University. While unintended pregnancies are at an all time low, cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea are spiking. By age 25, one in two people would have acquired an STI.

“Historically, there is an image that condoms decrease satisfaction,” said Dr. William Yarber, an AIDS/STD prevention researcher at Indiana University. “But I think the idea that condoms interfere with sexual pleasure is being challenged.

To popularize condom use among young adults, the Indiana University Kinsey Institute Condom Use Research Team (KI-CURT) developed a series of interventions based on data from over 50 publications relating to errors, problems, and contextual factors that impact condom use. Currently, the team is working with heterosexual couples to “increase pleasure through latex” in the third intervention program, called The Home-Based Exercises for Increasing Responsible Sex (THEIRS).

“We’re working on interventions that really emphasize associating pleasure with condom use,” said Yarber, a member of the KI-CURT team.

Heterosexual IU couples between the ages of 18-24 were recruited to participate in the intervention over the university’s spring break. For a stipend of $60 worth of gift cards and condoms, 27 couples were selected to complete a titillating series of homework assignments. Over the course of four weeks, they will describe their experience using ten different lubricants and condoms.

Yarber was surprised he had to turn away disappointed couples interested in participating in the study. “It just shows that younger people want to protect themselves, but they don’t know much about the topic and the issue.”

A major factor deterring condom use is the idea that it’s linked with decreased pleasure. “I don’t feel the difference,” Amaranth said, but she understands why men feel uncomfortable.

Interestingly, research from KI-CURT found that nearly 35 percent of heterosexual couples actually used condoms to maximize pleasure. “It increases satisfaction because they don’t have to worry about risk as much,” Yarber explained. “They can feel more relaxed and expressive and not have to be concerned about pregnancies or STIs.”

Following the success of the first intervention for males, called Homework Intervention Strategy (HIS), KI-CURT carried out a second program for females, called HERS. Women were given a variety of condoms and lubricants to experiment with at home using their fingers or a dildo.

Both men and women were surprised by the plethora of condoms available and realized they liked some better than others. Yarber says that even when contraceptive use is taught in high schools, students don’t always pay attention.

“They’ll go to the drug store and buy whatever is available, or to the student health center and get whatever is free,” Yarber said. “They don’t understand that there are a lot of choices or how to use them.”

The intervention opened doors for women. One participant said she felt more appreciative of her sexuality, and no longer felt apologetic about desire or protecting herself. “That’s a blessing that a woman achieves that,” Yarber said. “I mean, it’s a gift she’ll use the rest of her life.”

Although rampant among young adults, many sexuality active individuals believe they’ll never get infected. “They think that STDs occur to other people, but not them,” Yarber said. They also might have a false perception about the STI status of their partner because they look healthy. But not all relationships are exclusive, Yarber warns. There may be an unknown partner.

Most people underreport their sexual histories and the number of partners they have, particularly in the heat of the moment. “You have to make the assumption that people aren’t going to be totally honest,” Yarber said.

Despite the increase of STIs, Yarber is optimistic that more women are becoming assertive about using condoms for their protection. “I mean, they may not let the guy in unless he has a condom,” the Kinsey Institute researcher said.

When Amaranth refused to “let the guy in,” he ran to the gas station without hesitation. Before restarting the music, she asked him if he was clean. “Even if we’re using a condom, I always ask,” she said. “It’s for my own peace of mind.”

Preliminary feedback from HIS, HERS and THEIRS indicated that the intervention programs spurred communication about sexuality. Once all the data is analyzed, KI-CURT hopes to apply for federal funding to conduct clinical trials.

Cover Image Credit: Static.Independent

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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23 Things I've Learned In My 23 Years

And there will be many more lessons along the way.

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Turning 23 isn't a milestone birthday but this year has brought up a lot a reflection after going through a period of tribulations. We tend to forget the big picture of our lives that we just need to enjoy the ride and reflect on our growth as a person. Here are some things I have learned throughout the way.

1. Be more in the moment.

With life becoming monotonous, we are so fast paced and do not take a break to just breath and look around in our surrounds and embrace the moment we are in.

2. Check up on your loved ones more often.

A quick I love you or a text message goes a long way to know that you are appreciated and being thought of.

3. Embrace what you used to love as a kid again.

The greatest thing about being a child is fearlessness and imagination to be open to anything and we tend to lose that as we get older. To have back that feeling even for a moment is a moment of pure happiness.

4. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

How are you able to do all the great things in life you want to accomplish if you don't take care of your body and mind.

5. You can say no a lot more than you think.

We tend to feel obligated to say yes and make others feel happy when at the end of the day it is our life and you can say no to situations that don't make you comfortable or if you're not fully committed to.

6. Take advice from a variety of people in your life.

People have come from different walks of life and have stories to tell that are different from you, listening is the most important trait you can have. Listen to people that have been on this earth longer, listen to children, list to the person who no listens to aswell.

7. Pet more puppies

No explanation, animals just need all the love in the world.

8. Expect your plans to change last minute.

Be flexible, as you get older holding relationships takes a lot more work so you have to be committed to seeing the people you care about.

9. Be more financially responsible with your money starting at a younger age.

Talke about money more, teach yourself about money responsibility so you are not worrying when you get older if you have retirement funds or not. You want to live a secure financial life then start young.

10. Staying at home with a glass of wine and Netflix can be more fun than the club.

It's not all hyped up to be. You save a lot more money, the drinks taste better, and you can watch your favorite shows in your pajamas.

11. You don't stop learning once you get out of school.

You're always learning every day. Also keep your brain sharp by reading, teaching others, and continuing your passion.

12. Your words have a bigger impact on people so be conscious of what you say.

Words can be remembered for a long time by a person and impact their lives, so be conscious of what you say to people that you surround yourself with. The words you say represent yourself.

13. Judgment from others comes from fear

When a person is judging you they are showing their own fears and projecting it on to you, so do not bear that fear onto yourself.

14. Pursue the life that you want

At the end of the day, it's your life so do what makes you happy.

15. It's not the end of the world if you're taking a little longer in the race called life, everyone has a different path

Everyone has a different journey to get to where they want to go. We tend to compare ourselves to what society's standards of where you should be at a certain age when there is no perfect time.

16. Take more pictures of moments

You won't regret it when you're 80 and looking back at old times

17. Open up to your spiritual side.

We all are looking for answers and a deeper connection, whether is God, meditation or Basketball. Connect with your spiritual side so you have a place to find your center in times of need and calmness.

18. You will fail a lot in your twenties and that's okay.

The twenties are a time for failures and learning from that so you can grow to be who you want to be.

19. Go outside in nature more

We are blessed to call this Earth our home and should enjoy what beaches, mountains, springs its has to offer for us.

20. Do your research and stand for what you believe in

Question everything and everyone and fight for injustices to make a change in this world.

21. Get out your comfort zone and learn something new

You will not grow if you do not fight out of your fears and into new possibilites.

22. Put yourself first

You are the most important person because you come into this world alone and leave alone so in order to tkae care of others and to have the life you want you have to put yourself first.

23. Dont compare yourself.

We do not see the full story of other people's lives, we do not see the hardships that they go through so when we compare we tend to think the grass can be greener. Instead of comparing appreciate your life and make your life what you want it to be.

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