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Survey: Men less likely to use condoms with more attractive women

The chance they had a sexually transmitted infection did not affect intent, researchers in the survey report.

By Stephen Feller
Survey: Men less likely to use condoms with more attractive women
Attractiveness of a woman plays into whether or not heterosexual men are willing to have sex with a woman without wearing a condom, according to a recent survey. Photo by Pair Srinrat/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, June 24 (UPI) -- Men shown pictures of women said they were less likely to wear a condom the more attractive they found a woman, regardless of how they perceive the risk of acquiring a disease because of the lack of protection, researchers at the University of Bristol and University of Southampton found in a recent survey.

Consistent use of condoms has been shown overwhelmingly to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS, as well as other sexually transmitted infections, however their efficacy is dependent on men actually using them.

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Previous studies have shown mens' reactions to women, and their intention to have safer sex, is directly affected by how attractive they find her, including that they are more likely to wear a condom the less attractive they find a woman.

Although the new survey's results may be linked to evolutionary traits that "men want to reproduce with women they find to be more attractive," Dr. Roger Ingham, a sexual health expert at the University of Southampton, told The Washington Post, another explanation is that young men are willing to risk their health to gain the high status they attach to having sex with attractive women.

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For the study, published in the British Medical Journal Open, researchers interviewed 51 heterosexual men between the ages of 18 and 69, showing them photos of 20 women's faces, asking them to rate, from 0 to 100, each woman's attractiveness, the likelihood they would have sex with her, the likelihood they would use a condom, how many other men, out of 100, would have unprotected sex with the woman, and the likelihood the woman has a sexually transmitted infection.

Overall, the more attractive a woman was found among the men, the more willing they would be to have sex with her and less likely they would use a condom if it happened.

Higher condom use was linked to lower ratings of her attractiveness, higher rating of her STI likelihood, the participant being in an exclusive relationship, being less satisfied with their sex lives, lower age, higher number of sexual partners, later loss of virginity and lower confidence in their assessing on whether a woman has an STI.

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The more attractive a participant judged himself to be, however, the more he thought other men like him would engage in condomless sex and the less likely he was to intend to use a condom.

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The researchers also say the survey should be repeated with homosexual and bisexual men to see if intent to use a condom is similarly based on attractiveness.

"Male perceptions of attractiveness influence their condom use intentions; such risk biases could profitably be discussed during sex education sessions and in condom use promotion interventions," researchers wrote in the study.

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