Research Finds Sex Can Still Feel Good With Condoms

We’ve heard some pretty colorful excuses for not using condoms (a.k.a. the only birth control method that protects against STIs). Reducing sensitivity is definitely a big one. Fortunately, science is here to help put the rumors to rest and assure us that condoms may be a barrier to STI transmission, but they’re no barrier to sexual pleasure.

Debby Herbenick and Michael Reece, co-directors of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion, led a team of researchers to look at data from the 2009 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior. They wanted to learn more about how people (1,645 of them, ages 18-59) used, or didn’t use, condoms and lubricants. The study was published in the February 2013 issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine.*

Condoms and lube and erections…oh my!
The researchers behind the study learned some interesting things. A few noteworthy findings:

  • Women were much less likely than men to know details about the condom they’re using. Only 11% of women knew whether the condom they used was lubricated, compared to 27% of men. And only 9% of women knew what material the condom they were using was made of, compared to 24% of men.
  • Everybody thinks sex is hot. Sex was rated to be pleasurable whether or not it involved using condoms or lubricant.
  • Erections happen. Men said it was equally easy to get an erection whether there were condoms or lubricant involved or not.
  • Lubrication matters. Men who didnít use condoms or lubricant had slightly higher arousal ratings than men who used condoms without lube. But men who used a condom with lube had about the same arousal ratings as men who didn’t use a condom.

The takeaways
The main takeaway here seems to be that condoms don’t have much effect on sexual enjoyment overall. Given their major bonus — STI protection — that’s great news all around. A secondary takeaway according to study researcher Debby Herbenick: better communication could probably go a long way in making sex with a condom better. We say: If you haven’t found the condoms and lube that get your arousal ratings up, set aside some time with someone special and get sampling!

*FYI: The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior were funded by Church & Dwight Co., Inc., the makers of Trojan condoms. Dr. Herbenick confirmed that the company had no say in what the research team published.

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Rachel L.
Rachel -1 years ago

Well I would hope so! Tyfs.

Karen E.
Karen E1 years ago


Pronatalist Pronatalist

Condoms dull sensation, have problems of poor fit, semen backpressure, and multiple modes of "failure." Do NOT use nasty unnatural condoms. Get married, prepare for children, let babies happen. Sex was meant to be natural.

Barbara D.
Past Member 4 years ago

I haven't met a man yet who was slowed down by a condom!

Sabrina I.
Past Member 4 years ago

thank you

Cynthia B.
cynthia l4 years ago

There never seemed to be much differance, as I recall. Be safe tho ladies you are in control just say upfront- no cover no under the cover. There are far to many STDs and unwanted children

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia4 years ago

but people prefer ignorance

Corrie Kat
Corrie Kat4 years ago

hahaha they had to do official funded studies for this one?

Ernie Miller
william Miller4 years ago

one benefit is it helps make the erection last longer men are less likey lt ejacuate so fast

Kim W.
Kim W4 years ago

sad us of money oh well