Thursday, September 11, 2008

Factors that influence condom use among teenagers

Teens' failure to use condoms linked to partner disapproval, fear of less sexual pleasure

Approximately one in four teens in the United States will contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts believe a major contributing factor is the failure of many teens to use condoms consistently and routinely. Now a new study provides some insight into some of the factors that influence condom use among teenagers.

Researchers from the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center and three other institutions surveyed more than 1,400 adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 21 who had unprotected sex in the previous 90 days. They found that teens who did not use condoms were significantly more likely to believe that condoms reduce sexual pleasure and were also more concerned that their partner would not approve of condom use. The findings appear in the September/October issue of Public Health Reports.

"It's clear that we have to address these attitudes, fears and concerns that many teens have regarding condom use, if we want to reduce their risk for contracting a sexually transmitted infection," says lead author Larry K. Brown, MD, of the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center. "The good news is that these attitudes may be easily influenced and changed through clinical and community-based interventions."

Study participants in Atlanta, Miami and Providence completed an audio computer-assisted interview to gather information about sexual risk behaviors including condom use within the previous 90 days. Questions included attitudes and perceptions about condom use, and communication and negotiation with partners about condom use. The group included 797 females and 613 males. Approximately half were African American, 24 percent were Hispanic and 19 percent were white.

Nearly two-thirds of adolescents did not use a condom the last time they had sex. Participants also reported an average of two partners and about 15 incidents of unprotected sexual activity within the 90-day period. In addition to concerns about reduced sexual pleasure and partner disapproval, teens who did not use condoms were also less likely to discuss condom use with their partners. These findings held true across racial/ethnic groups, gender and geographic locations.

Based on the study's findings, the authors recommend clinicians carefully monitor and routinely assess the sexual risk behaviors of adolescents and address some of the common attitudes and concerns influencing condom use. For example, clinicians can teach teens how to effectively and respectfully communicate with their partners about using condoms or counsel them about finding condom brands and sizes that provide optimal fit, comfort and sensation.

"These kinds of interventions, including community-based programs, can play a major role in increasing condom use, particularly among high-risk adolescents, and promote their sexual health," says Brown, who is also a professor of psychiatry and human behavior at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Factors that influence condom use among teenagers

Teens' failure to use condoms linked to partner disapproval, fear of less sexual pleasure

Approximately one in four teens in the United States will contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts believe a major contributing factor is the failure of many teens to use condoms consistently and routinely. Now a new study provides some insight into some of the factors that influence condom use among teenagers.

Researchers from the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center and three other institutions surveyed more than 1,400 adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 21 who had unprotected sex in the previous 90 days. They found that teens who did not use condoms were significantly more likely to believe that condoms reduce sexual pleasure and were also more concerned that their partner would not approve of condom use. The findings appear in the September/October issue of Public Health Reports.

"It's clear that we have to address these attitudes, fears and concerns that many teens have regarding condom use, if we want to reduce their risk for contracting a sexually transmitted infection," says lead author Larry K. Brown, MD, of the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center. "The good news is that these attitudes may be easily influenced and changed through clinical and community-based interventions."

Study participants in Atlanta, Miami and Providence completed an audio computer-assisted interview to gather information about sexual risk behaviors including condom use within the previous 90 days. Questions included attitudes and perceptions about condom use, and communication and negotiation with partners about condom use. The group included 797 females and 613 males. Approximately half were African American, 24 percent were Hispanic and 19 percent were white.

Nearly two-thirds of adolescents did not use a condom the last time they had sex. Participants also reported an average of two partners and about 15 incidents of unprotected sexual activity within the 90-day period. In addition to concerns about reduced sexual pleasure and partner disapproval, teens who did not use condoms were also less likely to discuss condom use with their partners. These findings held true across racial/ethnic groups, gender and geographic locations.

Based on the study's findings, the authors recommend clinicians carefully monitor and routinely assess the sexual risk behaviors of adolescents and address some of the common attitudes and concerns influencing condom use. For example, clinicians can teach teens how to effectively and respectfully communicate with their partners about using condoms or counsel them about finding condom brands and sizes that provide optimal fit, comfort and sensation.

"These kinds of interventions, including community-based programs, can play a major role in increasing condom use, particularly among high-risk adolescents, and promote their sexual health," says Brown, who is also a professor of psychiatry and human behavior at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Monday, September 8, 2008

New research on why people cheat

Probability of cheating during the course of a relationship varies between 40 and 76 percent

The probability of someone cheating during the course of a relationship varies between 40 and 76 percent. "It's very high," says Geneviève Beaulieu-Pelletier, PhD student at the Université de Montréal's Department of Psychology.

"These numbers indicate that even if we get married with the best of intentions things don't always turn out the way we plan. What interests me about infidelity is why people are willing to conduct themselves in ways that could be very damaging to them and to their relationship."

The student wanted to know if the type of commitment a person has with his or her loved ones is correlated to the desire of having extra-marital affairs. "The emotional attachment we have with others is modeled on the type of parenting received during childhood," she says.

According to psychologists, people with avoidant attachment styles are individuals uncomfortable with intimacy and are therefore more likely to multiply sexual encounters and cheat. But this has never been proved scientifically, which is what Beaulieu-Pelletier attempted to do in a series of four studies.

The first study was conducted on 145 students with an average age of 23. Some 68 percent had thought about cheating and 41 percent had actually cheated. Sexual satisfaction aside, the results indicated a strong correlation between infidelity and people with an avoidant attachment style.

The second study was conducted on 270 adults with an average age of 27. About 54 percent had thought about cheating and 39 percent had actually cheated. But the correlation is the same: people with an avoidant attachment style are more likely to cheat.

"Infidelity could be a regulatory emotional strategy used by people with an avoidant attachment style. The act of cheating helps them avoid commitment phobia, distances them from their partner, and helps them keep their space and freedom."

Both these studies were followed up by two other studies that asked about the motives for infidelity. The will to distance themselves from commitment and their partner was the number one reason cited.

Her studies revealed no differences between men and women. Just as many men and women had an avoidant attachment style and the correlation with infidelity is just as strong on both sides. "Contrary to popular belief, infidelity isn't more prevalent in men," she says.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Gait may be associated with orgasmic ability

A new study found that trained sexologists could infer a woman's history of vaginal orgasm by observing the way she walks. The study is published in the September 2008 issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine, the official journal of the International Society for Sexual Medicine and the International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health.

Led by Stuart Brody of the University of the West of Scotland in collaboration with colleagues in Belgium, the study involved 16 female Belgian university students. Subjects completed a questionnaire on their sexual behavior and were then videotaped from a distance while walking in a public place. The videotapes were rated by two professors of sexology and two research assistants trained in the functional-sexological approach to sexology, who were not aware of the women's orgasmic history.

The results showed that the appropriately trained sexologists were able to correctly infer vaginal orgasm through watching the way the women walked over 80 percent of the time. Further analysis revealed that the sum of stride length and vertebral rotation was greater for the vaginally orgasmic women. "This could reflect the free, unblocked energetic flow from the legs through the pelvis to the spine," the authors note.

There are several plausible explanations for the results shown by this study. One possibility is that a woman's anatomical features may predispose her to greater or lesser tendency to experience vaginal orgasm. According to Brody, "Blocked pelvic muscles, which might be associated with psychosexual impairments, could both impair vaginal orgasmic response and gait." In addition, vaginally orgasmic women may feel more confident about their sexuality, which might be reflected in their gait. "Such confidence might also be related to the relationship(s) that a woman has had, given the finding that specifically penile-vaginal orgasm is associated with indices of better relationship quality," the authors state. Research has linked vaginal orgasm to better mental health.

The study provides some support for assumptions of a link between muscle blocks and sexual function, according to the authors. They conclude that it may lend credibility to the idea of incorporating training in movement, breathing and muscle patterns into the treatment of sexual dysfunction.

"Women with orgasmic dysfunction should be treated in a multi-disciplinary manner" says Irwin Goldstein, Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine."Although small, this study highlights the potential for multiple therapies such as expressive arts therapy incorporating movement and physical therapy focusing on the pelvic floor."