By Balsam Fasih, Contributor
A new study from McMaster University researchers is assessing condom use among Canadian adults.
With a team led by Dr. Tina Fetner, the chair of the department of sociology at McMaster, the study surveyed 2300 Canadian adults’ condom use. It examined how often these adults used condoms during their last ten instances of penile-vaginal intercourse within a period of six months.
Previous studies of this nature focused on specific demographics. For example, certain studies exclusively focused on sex workers’ condom use. The McMaster study is unique in that it uses a sample that is representative of the Canadian adult population, taking into account a variety of ages.
The study found that only 30 per cent of Canadians use condoms during penile-vaginal intercourse, with condom use most common among adults aged 18 to 35.
Another key finding from the study is that cisgender men diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections are three times more likely to never use condoms than cisgender men who have not been diagnosed with STIs. However, cisgender adults who believed they had an increased risk of contracting an STI within the next six months reported greater condom use.
The study also found that people who have received instructions on how to use condoms are more likely to use them.
Fetner believes that the study’s findings highlight the importance of providing the Canadian population with general information on condom use. This also includes educating Canadian adults on the risks that STIs bring and the ways that condoms can mitigate them.
Several other factors also affect condom use. For example, men from visible minority groups are more likely to use condoms than cisgender white men.
“I think this really suggests they’re more vulnerable to social consequences that are associated with their sexual choices,” says Fetner.
Furthermore, the study found that use of other forms of contraception decreases condom use. Fetner considers this a reminder that pregnancy prevention is a key motivation behind using condoms, underscoring the fact that other forms of contraception do not provide enough proper protection against STIs.
However, the results of the study cannot be generalized to everybody. As participants reported to the study when discussing their ten most recent instances of penile-vaginal intercourse, these findings cannot be applied to same-sex sexual encounters or to people who have had fewer than 10 instances of penile-vaginal intercourse in the previous six months.
Fetner suggests future studies should continue to examine how factors like education and sexual health impact condom use as well as how patterns of condom use change over time.