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J Sex Med. 2014 Jan;11(1):102-6. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12362. Epub 2013 Oct 29.

The effect of condoms on penile vibrotactile sensitivity thresholds in young, heterosexual men.

Author information

1
The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA; Department of Gender Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Investigating the ways in which barrier methods such as condoms may affect penile sensory thresholds has potential relevance to the development of interventions in men who experience negative effects of condoms on sexual response and sensation. A quantitative, psychophysiological investigation examining the degree to which sensations are altered by condoms has, to date, not been conducted.

AIM:

The objective of this study was to examine penile vibrotactile sensitivity thresholds in both flaccid and erect penises with and without a condom while comparing men who do and those who do not report condom-associated erection problems (CAEP).

METHODS:

Penile vibrotactile sensitivity thresholds were assessed among a total of 141 young, heterosexual men using biothesiometry. An incremental two-step staircase method was used and repeated three times for each of four conditions. Intra-class correlation coefficients (ICCs) were calculated for all vibratory assessments. Penile vibratory thresholds were compared using a mixed-model analysis of variance.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Penile vibrotactile sensitivity thresholds with and without a condom, erectile function measured by International Index of Erectile Function Questionnaire, and self-reported degree of erection.

RESULTS:

Significant main effects of condoms (yes/no) and erection (yes/no) were found. No main or interaction effects of CAEP were found. Condoms were associated with higher penile vibrotactile sensitivity thresholds (F[1,124] = 17.11, P < 0.001). Penile vibrotactile thresholds were higher with an erect penis than with a flaccid penis (F[1,124] = 4.21, P = 0.042).

CONCLUSION:

The current study demonstrates the feasibility of measuring penile vibratory thresholds with and without a condom in both erect and flaccid experimental conditions. As might be expected, condoms increased penile vibrotactile sensitivity thresholds. Interestingly, erections were associated with the highest thresholds. Thus, this study was the first to document that erect penises are less sensitive to vibrotactile stimulation than flaccid penises.

KEYWORDS:

Condoms; Male Sexual Health; Penile Biothesiometry; Penile Sensory Thresholds; Penile Vibratory Thresholds; Young Men

PMID:
24168347
PMCID:
PMC3947033
DOI:
10.1111/jsm.12362
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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