Objective: To understand gender differences in sexual behaviours in response to genitourinary symptoms.
Methods: 473 (239 female and 234 male) subjects were enrolled at an STD clinic regardless of symptoms or infection status. Subjects completed a 30 day calendar recall interview of genitourinary symptoms, coital activity, sexual partners, and condom use.
Results: Of the total of 473 participants, 261 (55%) reported symptoms (61% women and 39% men). STI prevalence was 73% and 75% for symptomatic women and men, respectively. For black women the probability of coitus was decreased in the presence of vaginal discharge (OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.47 to 0.89). No change in coital activity was seen in non-black women in the presence of vaginal discharge. Having vaginal discharge did increase the likelihood of condom use by their partners (OR 2.48, 95% CI 1.05 to 5.88), if coitus occurred. Urethral discharge was not associated with coitus or condom use in men. However, in men, dysuria was associated with increased likelihood of condom use (OR 4.25, 95% CI 1.57 to 11.56) if coitus occurred.
Conclusion: Black women altered both coital activity and condom use behaviours in response to vaginal discharge. In contrast, non-black women did not modify coital activity. Men increased condom use when having dysuria but did not alter coital activity. Changes in sexual behaviours may alter the risk of STI transmission independent of interactions with the healthcare system. STI education and prevention programmes need to better understand these gender and racial differences in developing effective strategies to reduce STI transmission.
- BV, bacterial vaginosis
- NGU, non-gonococcal urethritis
- STI, sexually transmitted infections
- gender differences
- sexual behaviours
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