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Two heads are better than one: the association between condom decision-making and condom use errors and problems


Objectives: This exploratory study compared the frequency of condom use errors and problems between men reporting that condom use for penile–vaginal sex was a mutual decision compared with men making the decision unilaterally.

Methods: Nearly 2000 people completed a web-based questionnaire. A sub-sample of 660 men reporting that they last used a condom for penile–vaginal sex (within the past three months) was analysed. Nine condom use errors/problems were assessed. Multivariate analyses controlled for men’s age, marital status, and level of experience using condoms.

Results: Men’s unilateral decision-making was associated with increased odds of removing condoms before sex ended (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 2.51, p = 0.002), breakage (AOR 3.90, p = 0.037), and slippage during withdrawal (AOR 2.04, p = 0.019). Men’s self-reported level of experience using condoms was significantly associated with seven out of nine errors/problems, with those indicating less experience consistently reporting more errors/problems.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that female involvement in the decision to use condoms for penile–vaginal sex may be partly protective against some condom errors/problems. Men’s self-reported level of experience using condoms may be a useful indicator of the need for education designed to promote the correct use of condoms. Education programmes may benefit men by urging them to involve their female partner in condom use decisions.

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