When do men not want to use a condom?

Friday 20th May, 2016


Studies have revealed that men are less likely to use a condom in some situations than others – for unexpected reasons.

Condoms the most effective contraception NHS says Image: Akis Palianastasis

But did you know that a woman’s perceived level of attractiveness might be a reason some men decide not to use protection?

Recent research by the University of Southampton demonstrates that this might just be the case for a number of heterosexual men.

"We asked the participants in the research to rate women’s attractiveness based on their facial profiles and then rate the likelihood of unprotected sex with each woman. The correlation between these two variables was very strong," said Anastasia Eleftheriou, a doctoral researcher at the University of Southampton.

Image: Akis Palianastasis

“What I find most interesting about the study is that condom use intentions were dominated by considerations of attractiveness. A high percentage of participants were more attracted to so-called ‘riskier’ women, but they were less interested in using condoms with these women,” said professor Seth Bullock of the University of Bristol.

Neil Levy, 27, a java developer living in North London who did not use a condom during his first one-night stand experience, said: “I was blinded by how beautiful she was. A wonderful night in bed with her was the only thought on my mind.”

“Every now and then I like having sex without using condoms. I realise how dangerous it is but I can't resist the sense of freedom I experience through unprotected sex,” he added.

Condomless sex may result in pregnancy Image: Akis Palianastasis

Frank Longford, a 25-year-old PhD student at the University of Southampton, has his own theory about the research results.

“I do feel that on an instinctive level, we are programmed to see ‘attractive people’ as more appealing, and so it is likely that we subconsciously disregard the possibility of catching a disease from being intimate with them,” he said.

But unprotected sex is still an irresponsible choice considering the risks. On top of unwanted pregnancies, it can also lead to serious and potentially permanent STIs.

Be aware of sexually transmitted infections Image: Akis Palianastasis

According to the NHS, chlamydia and genital warts are the most common sexually transmitted infections in the UK, both easily passed during unprotected sex.

However, as both infections may exhibit no observable symptoms, people are often unaware that they have contracted them.

Meanwhile, the University of Southampton research goes on to suggest the following key factors are associated with a higher likelihood of a man using contraception with a particular woman:

  • assumed sexual background
  • participation in an exclusive relationship
  • a less satisfactory sex life
  • a later age of first sexual encounter
Safe sex saves your life Image: Akis Palianastasis

The study also sheds some light on the sexual risk-taking nature of men based on perceptions of their own attractiveness.

Men who believed they were more attractive were less likely to use a condom.

Eleftheriou said: “This might be due to the fact that 'attractive' men may feel that they can influence their partner not to use a condom to a greater extent than 'less attractive' men."