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National Sex Study Reveals Condom Usage has Increased Among those Under 40 and Minorities

The Journal of Sexual Medicine just published the largest sex survey in the nation in decades, which found that condom use in Americans at its highest in history. The survey found that the most prevalent condom use was among individuals under the age of 40 and by minorities. The survey explored the sexual activity of individuals across a wide age range, different genders, ethnicities, and sexual orientations.

According to the study’s findings, which appeared in the October issue, condoms were used in one of four acts of vaginal intercourse in the U.S. (one in three among singles). Researchers believe that the increase in condom use comes from educational programs. When it comes to responsible sexual behaviors, condom use is higher with black and Hispanic Americans than among white Americans and those from other racial groups. Researchers speculate that the increase in responsible sexual behavior could be due to more sexual education programs in schools and communities.

Dr. Irwin Goldstein, editor-in-chief of the journal and director of sexual medicine at Alvarado Hospital, noted that the new study came more than 60 years after Alfred Kinsey—also based at Indiana University—published his groundbreaking report "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male."

"Just like then, these papers contain material that is avant garde and often considered off-limits," Dr. Goldstein wrote in a forward to the study. "At a time when we can have nudity on HBO but cannot use the names of our genitals on the evening news, there remains a need to continue research on sexual health."

Many older adults continue to lead an active sex life, reporting a range of different behaviors and partner types. But adults 40 and older have the lowest rates of condom use. The survey may suggest these individuals are not as concerned about pregnancy. The survey suggests a need to enhance education efforts for older individuals regarding sexual transmitted disease risks and prevention.

The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB), conducted by researchers from the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University’s School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, is one of the most comprehensive studies on these topics in almost two decades. It includes the sexual experiences and condom-use behaviors of 5,865 adolescents and adults ages 14 to 94.