‘Do you know what you’re doing?’ college students’ experiences with male condoms

William L. Yarber, Cynthia A. Graham, Stephanie A. Sanders, Richard A. Crosby, Scott M. Butler, Rose M. Hartzell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Although quantitative assessment of male condom use errors and problems has received increased research attention, few studies have qualitatively examined this sexual health behavior. Purpose: This study examined problems of male condom use as experienced by college men and women at a large, public Midwestern university. Methods: Single-sex focus groups were conducted, two involving men (n=9, n=9) and two involving women (n=7, n=13). Eight research questions guided the discussion. Results: Six categories of problems and errors were identified: availability and provision of condoms, condom application, “fit and feel” of condom use, erection problems, incomplete use, and breakage and slippage. Participants expressed concerns, including mistrust of each gender for supplying and applying condoms, inadequate lubrication during condom use, condoms partially or fully slipping off, “losing” part or all of the condom in the vagina, delayed application, and reduced sensation and irritation. Some men expressed concern that vigorous sex might cause condom breakage, while some women indicated they did not like the smell of condoms. Discussion: Both male and female students expressed numerous concerns and issues related to condom use. Translation to Health Education Practice: Greater attention to correct condom use as well as the sexual relationship dynamics related to condom use is needed in college health education programming.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-331
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support for this project was provided by the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention (a joint project of Indiana University, the University of Colorado, and the University of Kentucky) and The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction (at Indiana University).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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