Young women are at risk of developing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) because of a fear of rejection if they demand their partner uses condoms, according to a new study by Murdoch University.
The survey of more than 1100 men and women aged between 18 and 25 found that despite unsafe sex being perceived as risk taking behaviour there was a strong relationship between condom use and a fear of rejection, with only 43 per cent of women always using condoms in casual relationships.
Dr Gaynor Edwards said that women who fear rejection use condoms less, particularly if they believe their partners don’t want to.
“The very last thing in someone’s mind when they are about to have sex is health. People are generally thinking about how they feel about their partner and how their partner feels about them,” Dr Edwards said.
She said the old-fashioned belief that women are responsible for the prevention of unwanted pregnancy and STIs may lead women to believe that men aren’t interested in using protection.
“Young women reported that they felt men were more against condom use than themselves, but this study showed that men wanted to use condoms as often as women did,” she said.
Dr Edwards said more needed to be done to ensure women know men want to use condoms.
“Many safe sex messages focus on ways to convince your partner to wear a condom, which may actually be having a negative impact on condom use,” she said.
“We need to make condom use more of a normal behaviour so that people have to ask to not wear a condom, not the other way round.”
This investigation into how young people’s perceptions of relationships related to their sexual behaviour in both casual and romantic relationships, was part of Dr Edwards’ PhD studies at Murdoch University.