"And Isn’t That the Point?" Contraceptive Decisions and Sexual Pleasure

Julie Fennell, Gallaudet University

Very little demographic work has explored the role that pleasure plays in contraceptive decision-making and use in the U.S. Using interview data from 30 young adult American opposite-sex couples, this paper explains how concerns about physical pleasure affects contraceptive method choice. I find that the perceived reduction in sexual pleasure is one of the major reasons both men and women do not use condoms. Many people recounted that when sexually aroused and confronted by a sexual situation, they often ignored potential long-term consequences such as pregnancy or STI's in favor of short-term sexual pleasure. In particular, when people perceived their opportunities for sexual pleasure were scarce, they were less likely to use hormonal birth control and also less likely to use condoms when actually encountering the chance to have sex.

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Presented in Poster Session 6