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It looks like the most important sexual health PSA of our time—wear a condom, dammit—is starting to sink in.
Condom usage in the U.S. is on the rise, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with a reported one-third of adult men consistently wrapping it up.
In the survey, which was conducted between 2011 and 2015, researchers asked more than 200,000 heterosexual men and women ages 15-44 about their use of condoms and other modes of contraception. Some 33.7% of participants said they’d used condoms during sex—up from 29.5% in 2002.
One caveat? Teenagers—the age group with the highest STI rates—aren’t using condoms more than before, researchers say. They’re certainly bringing up the average, though: Teenagers between 15 and 19 said they used condoms about 55% of the time. And women’s reports of male condom use didn’t boost over the years either.
Understandably, condom use depended on several factors: number of sexual partners, relationship status, and whether a woman was using another mode of contraception (even though methods like the pill can’t protect against the spread of STIs). Only 12% of women who were engaged, married, or living with their partner said their male partner always used a condom during sex, while condom use jumped to 43% among women who had recently met their partners.
So: Why do men report more frequent condom usage? Researchers point to the rise in IUDs (intrauterine devices) and birth control pills. But researchers also point out that condoms are also the only good method for preventing against STIs, not just unwanted pregnancy—especially with the onset of “superbug” (aka untreatable) gonorrhea, and alarmingly high chlamydia and syphilis rates in the U.S.
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