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Dual method use at last sexual encounter: a nationally representative, episode-level analysis of US men and women

Prepared for resubmission to Contraception

      Abstract

      Objectives

      Male condom use in conjunction with other contraceptives increases protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. However, few analyses contextualize dual method use within the sexual episode, include reports from men or explore gendered patterns in reporting.

      Study design

      We analyzed dual method use patterns using a nationally representative dataset of 18–44 years old in the US (N=404 men, 416 women). Respondents indicated contraceptive methods used at last penile–vaginal intercourse, condom practices and relationship and sexual information about that particular partner.

      Results

      More than one-in-three penile–vaginal intercourse episodes (40%) involved male condom use: 28% condom only and 12% condom plus a highly effective method. Dual method reporting did not differ significantly by gender. Among dual method users, only 59% reported condom use during the entire intercourse episode, while 35% began intercourse without one and 6% removed the condom during intercourse. A greater proportion of men than women reported incorrect use of condoms (49% versus 35%), though this difference was not statistically significant. Only 50% of dual method users reported condom use in all of their last 10 intercourse episodes.

      Conclusions

      Many people classified as “dual users” in previous studies may not be using dual methods consistently or correctly. Researchers and practitioners should inquire how and how often condoms are used when assessing and addressing dual method use. Furthermore, though men have rarely been surveyed about dual method use, they can provide consistent contraceptive estimates and may be more likely to report condom practices such as late application or early removal.

      Implications statement

      Many US women and men reporting dual method use also reported late application and early removal of condoms, as well as multiple condom-less prior sexual acts with that partner. Clinicians may wish to inquire how and how often clients use condoms; they may also wish to provide condom instruction and/or tips on better integrating condoms into the sexual experience with one's partner.

      Keywords

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