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 A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

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Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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A College Student's Guide To Self-Care 101

A trend on the rise, self-care is becoming more and more prevalent.

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My social media sites have been exploding with mentions of self-care. Tweets about the concept are ever on the rise and I think it is important to explore the concept. Self-care practices have become increasingly common because people are ever interested in tending to their emotional and physical wellbeing.

Unfortunately, with the popularization of the concept comes misconceptions. Self-care is not strictly about "treating yourself" and face masks. Additionally, it encompasses growth, reflection, and change. So, without further adieu, here are my top ten self-care tips!

1. Learn to be by yourself

This one is harder than people would think at first. Everyone's personality is different and, therefore, their affinity to being alone will differ as well. However, as I mentioned before, self-care is not only about physical practices. It is about eliminating toxicity from your life. This means eliminating bad habits, which is achieved through reflection and acknowledgment of the problematic habituation. Being by yourself allows you to set your own goals for yourself without any influence from outside factors. Additionally, the ability to be by yourself aids in establishing good self-esteem and ensures that the relationships you allow in your life are true and special rather than just to pass time.

2. Accept compliments

I don't know how this became normalized or why, but I despise the fact that girls have been taught to downplay their confidence. If someone offers a compliment, smile and accept it. Positive feelings towards yourself should be integral parts of your thought processes. Additionally, pay yourself compliments. They don't have to be said out loud but appreciate the beauty that is your body. It does so much for you, the least you could do is appreciate it every now and then.

3. Hold yourself accountable

Like I said earlier, part of self-care is eliminating bad habits. The tendency to attribute one's own failures and shortcomings to external forces is self-serving bias and those with good self-esteem are guilty of it. It may be difficult to balance attribution and self-esteem but in order to achieve growth, you have to acknowledge your own faults. This will allow for clarity and for you to work towards achieving better habits.

4. Don't bottle up your feelings

I am especially guilty of not following this tip. Keeping to yourself may seem like the easier thing to do and, if you are like anything like me, you may hate being seen as an inconvenience. However, I know that if I bottle up for too long, I tend to shut down and then I won't be able to achieve anything. Expressing your feelings is okay. Crying is okay. Anger is okay. Emotion is okay.

5. Try new things

Take a yoga class. Volunteer. Go to a new restaurant. Anything that pushes you out of your comfort zone incubates growth. You don't even have to enjoy everything you do, you just have to try. However, you may also find a new passion because of it.

6. Get some sleep

Don't spend all your time sleeping and lose all motivation to do anything, but make a conscious effort to get sufficient sleep so that all of your days can be as efficient as possible. You will be more energized and your immune system, as well as your physical appearance, will thank you.

7. Don't force yourself to do things you don't like

I know I said to try new things. However, if your best friend loves running and you go with her one day and find out you HATE it, don't force yourself. Find what works for you through trial and error. You will be much happier with your own flow and it keeps you from developing resentment.

8. Learn to say no

All the women in my life are especially guilty of this. We spread ourselves too thin because we can't say no. This goes hand in hand with not forcing yourself to do things that you don't want to do. Saying no doesn't make you a bitch, it makes you strong and lets people know that you know what you want.

9. Say what you mean

Don't sugarcoat things. It will leave you feeling unfulfilled and, quite frankly, it's exhausting trying to tiptoe around what you really mean. Don't be rude or aggressive, rather assertive and straight forward. It will make you a better communicator and will take pressure off of you as well.

10. Finally, treat yourself

I said self care wasn't entirely about that. I didn't say it wasn't necessary.

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