Article

Young women and limits to the normalisation of condom use: A qualitative study

MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Glasgow, UK.
AIDS Care (Impact Factor: 1.6). 06/2009; 21(5):561-6. DOI: 10.1080/09540120802301857
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

Encouraging condom use among young women is a major focus of HIV/STI prevention efforts but the degree to which they see themselves as being at risk limits their use of the method. In this paper, we examine the extent to which condom use has become normalised among young women. In-depth interviews were conducted with 20 year old women from eastern Scotland (N=20). Purposive sampling was used to select a heterogeneous group with different levels of sexual experience and from different social backgrounds. All of the interviewees had used (male) condoms but only three reported consistent use. The rest had changed to other methods, most often the pill, though they typically went back to using condoms occasionally. Condoms were talked about as the most readily available contraceptive method, and were most often the first contraceptive method used. The young women had ingrained expectations of use, but for most, these norms centred only on their new or casual partners, with whom not using condoms was thought to be irresponsible. Many reported negative experiences with condoms, and condom dislike and failure were common, lessening trust in the method. Although the sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention provided by condoms was important, this was seen as additional, and secondary, to pregnancy prevention. As the perceived risks of STIs lessened in relationships with boyfriends, so did condom use. The promotion of condoms for STI prevention alone fails to consider the wider influences of partners and young women's negative experiences of the method. Focusing on the development of condom negotiation skills alone will not address these issues. Interventions to counter dislike, method failure, and the limits of the normalisation of condom use should be included in STI prevention efforts.

Download full-text

Full-text

Available from: Helen Sweeting
  • Source
    • "'Finding fit' was also located in dominant discourses of (hetero)sex and heterosexuality, where the naturalness and pleasure of (hetero)sex is prioritised. Previous work has similarly indicated pleasure is an important factor influencing the discontinuation of condoms (Braun, 2013; Williamson, Buston & Sweeting, 2009). Women expressed agency by highlighting the lengths they went to, in order to find suitable contraception, drawing on embodied evidence to legitimise their accounts. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The oral contraceptive pill remains the most widely used contraceptive method. We consider The Pill’s depiction as variously revolutionary and liberating, oppressive for women, and more recently, a ‘lifestyle drug’. Drawing on discourses of (hetero)sex, heterosexuality and gender performance, we discuss how contraceptive use has been feminised and consider the current gap in understanding how women negotiate their positioning as responsible for contraception. To begin to fill this gap, we conducted a thematic discourse analysis using 75 free-text responses (to a general question in a wider contraceptive survey) to explore how women account for their agency and responsibility in discussions of accessing contraception. We identified two themes: responsibility for education and information and ‘finding contraceptive fit’. Women’s discussions of responsibility for education and information highlight the need for transparency from educational bodies, which are positioned as lacking in their delivery of contraceptive information. Women describe ‘finding contraceptive fit’ as an embodied process of experimentation with contraception to ultimately find one with minimal negative side effects. We situate our findings within critiques of the gendered nature and production of health, conceptualising contraceptive use as a distinctly feminine practice, which promotes self-surveillance and embodied awareness.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014 · Feminism & Psychology
  • Source
    • "For instance, in the case of male condoms, many men in SSA may interpret a request to use condoms as an insult, a sign of mistrust, and a hindrance to sexual fulfillment [31–35]. Additional determinants of condom use are female decision-making power [36, 37], socioeconomic factors, access to and availability of condoms [38, 39] technical issues with substandard condoms [40–43], and myths and misconceptions about condoms and fertility aspirations. It is important therefore that efforts to increase condom use address the barriers that have been highlighted in the literature. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Contraception can reduce the dual burden of high fertility and high HIV prevalence in sub-Sahara Africa, but significant barriers remain regarding access and use. We describe factors associated with nonuse of contraception and with use of specific contraceptive methods in HIV positive and HIV negative Rwandan women. Data from 395 HIV-positive and 76 HIV-negative women who desired no pregnancy in the previous 6 months were analyzed using univariate and multivariate logistic regression models to identify clinical and demographic characteristics that predict contraceptive use. Differences in contraceptive methods used were dependent on marital/partner status, partner's knowledge of a woman's HIV status, and age. Overall, condoms, abstinence, and hormonal methods were the most used, though differences existed by HIV status. Less than 10% of women both HIV+ and HIV- used no contraception. Important differences exist between HIV-positive and HIV-negative women with regard to contraceptive method use that should be addressed by interventions seeking to improve contraceptive prevalence.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2012 · AIDS research and treatment
  • Source
    • "" Growing research demonstrates that the ways male condoms feel sexually matter to women, too [44]. Some women dislike like the ways condoms diminish sensation [45], exacerbate vaginal dryness [29] or interrupt the sexual moment [45]. Research from both the United Kingdom [46] and the US [47] demonstrated that women were less likely to use condoms when they experienced reductions in sexual pleasure and functioning compared to women with more positive condom experiences. "

    Full-text · Article ·
Show more