Department of Health and Social Care
Printable version E-mail this to a friend

Condom confidence boosts women's sex appeal

Condom confidence boosts women's sex appeal

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH News Release issued by COI News Distribution Service.

* Carrying Condoms no longer taboo as women today twice as likely to carry condoms than their mother's generation

Myth-busting new research for the Condom Essential Wear campaign by ICM reveals that women who take control in the bedroom by demanding safe sex are more attractive to English men.

Men like nothing better than a woman who knows what she wants, with the majority of men polled (68%) believing that women who carry condoms are confident and 'in control'. Furthermore, more than a quarter of men (27%) would actually prefer their partner to be the one who suggests using condoms.

Female attitudes and behaviour in relation to sex, and roles and responsibilities, have changed significantly over the last 30 years, and "double standards" which used to exist for men and women around carrying condoms are disappearing.

Women in the noughties are twice as likely as women of their mother's generation to carry condoms - with 31% of women aged 18-24 carrying them on nights out compared with 17% of women of a similar age in the 80's and 14% of women of a similar age in the 70's.

Men no longer have the monopoly on carrying the condoms. The vast majority (81%) of men think women should feel comfortable carrying condoms. Women have responded to these changing roles and are far less likely to rely on a man to provide the condom than they were in previous generations (87%).

As levels of confidence and a general sense of female empowerment have grown, so too has the amount and frequency of sex women are having - far more than in previous generations. Long term trends - as indicated by the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal), one of the most comprehensive surveys of its kind - indicate how sexual behaviour has changed over past decades, with women having more sexual partners and experiencing different and in some cases more risky types of sexual activity1.

However, there is another side to more liberal attitudes and greater levels of sexual activity. The UK has some of the highest rates of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) amongst young people in Europe. One in twelve people under 25 who are tested by the National Chlamydia Screening Programme are found to have Chlamydia which often lacks visible symptoms and can have serious consequences such as ectopic pregnancy and infertility.

Sarah Hedley, Cosmopolitan's Sexpert and renowned commentator on women's issues, said:

"Many young women who get treated for a (STI) have had unprotected sex because they didn't have a condom to hand. They're often worried they'll be seen as 'easy' for carrying or suggesting using one. This research clearly shows however that perceptions are changing for the better.

"Condoms offer the best form of protection against STIs and women planning nights out should make sure they're prepared. More women today are carrying them than in previous generations which is excellent news, but there is still progress to be made. Taking a condom on a night out should be as normal as taking a phone, keys and purse. There's never been a better time for women to be condom confident and enjoy a healthy, active sex life."


For more information, images and interviews with Sarah Hedley or a for case studies please contact Laura Clare or Helen Carnall on 0207 260 2700 or e-mail /

Notes to editors

Condom Essential Wear
Condom Essential Wear is a Department of Health campaign aimed at normalising condom use among 18 - 24 year olds. The campaign aims to position condoms as an every-day item and condom use as a sign of choice and confidence. As a result, young adults will feel more able to make informed and healthy decisions about their sex lives. Further information and advice on all things condom related, including tips on how to use condoms and where to get them, can be found at:

ICM polling
ICM interviewed a random sample of 1000 adults aged 18-35 year olds from its online panel between 3rd-16th February 2009, and a random sample of 1024 adults aged 18-24 year olds and 39-58 year olds from its online panel between 6th-15th January 2009. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at

(Please contact the Condom Essential Wear press office for additional facts and stats)

* As many as 75% of women and 50% of men who have Chlamydia don't show any symptoms2

* 43% of men and 40% of women have admitted having unprotected sex with a stranger3

* 38% of young women do not use a condom with a new partner. A further 16 per cent have contracted an STI4

* Condoms are the only way to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. They can be used as a dual-purpose method, both for contraception and protection against STIs5

* There were 397,990 newly diagnosed STIs in UK Gum clinics in 2007, across all age groups - up on the 375,843 reported in 20066

Condoms through the ages

* Condoms have been around for several thousand years. In Europe the earliest record of using condoms is shown in cave paintings created almost 2000 years ago7

* In the1930's manufacturers worked out how to produce Liquid Latex - this is still used to make condoms today8

* The 1990s saw the introduction of a large number of different types of condoms, including coloured, ribbed, studded, flavoured and large condoms

* In 1992 the first ever female condom became available

* In 2005 10.4 billion male condoms were used worldwide9

* European condom sales have risen by as much as 10% over the last year according to figures by SSL, owned by Durex.

Condom confidence tips
Women needn't be shy about bringing up the subject of condoms. There's no reason they should ruin the mood. These one-liners will make it clear you're up for some fun, but only if he wears a condom

* "Let's slip you into something more comfortable'"
* "I'm into rubber - are you?"
* "If you make it clean, I'll make it dirty"
* "Let's get you ready for the ride of your life"
* "If you do this now, imagine what I'll do later.-..."

Some guys will try any line to get a woman into bed and some will try to have their way without a condom : Let him know that you want him, but that you want to be safe too.

He says: "I don't like them as we have to stop what we're doing and I don't stay as hard."
You say: "Why don't I put it on for you, it will be much more fun."

He says: "But babe you know that I find them too tight and I don't enjoy it as much
You say: "You're such a big guy I made sure I bought extra large"

He says: "They make sex feel different"
You say: "Let's use these ribbed ones, then it feels even better"

He says: "But it's much less intimate"
You say: "I'll put it on for you - it will be much more intimate."

1 Natsal 2000 indicated that many reported behaviours had risen compared with data from Natsal 1990. For men and women there were increases in: reported numbers of heterosexual partners ever and in the past 5 years; homosexual partnerships ever and in the past 5 years; concurrent partnerships, oral-genital contact and heterosexual anal sex in the past year.


3 Sex Health Guru 2008 (World's largest internet sexual health survey)

4 More Magazine Poll 2008

5 WHO factsheet No243 June 2000

6 Health Protection Agency

7 Durex website: History of Condoms

8 Durex website: History of Condoms

9 UNFPA (2005) 'Donor Support for Contraceptives and Condoms for STI/HIV Prevention 2005'

Get more out of life! Join CSSC for only £4.95pm!