The condom: why more people don't put it on


Address for correspondence: Dr Victor Minichiello, Department of Behavioural Health Sciences, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia 3083


This study sheds light on an important topic emerging in the sexual health debate – identifying the interpersonal nature of sexual relationships which influence condom use. Using the principles of grounded theory, in-depth interviews were conducted with heterosexual men and women to understand the impact of the dyadic context of ‘heterosex’ on decisions to use condoms, condom availability and partner support and receptivity to cooperate in safer sex practices. The study found that condom dialogues occur at two levels - ‘the interpersonal condom dialogues’ and the ‘internal or discursive condom dialogues’. These dialogues shape condom use/non-use negotiations and the sexual encounter. Individuals also enter into sexual relations with a dislike of condoms and a perception of condom sex as ‘other sex’, which sets the context for their sexual experiences. Gender constructions of socially ‘appropriate’ sexual behaviour for men and women are implicated in the decisions to use condoms. The study highlights the importance of promoting condom sex as good and pleasurable sex if education and public health intervention programmes are to be effective in changing attitudes towards safer sex practices.