Condoms have long been considered a “necessary evil” in the sex and dating world. While I feel the term “necessary evil” is silly with regard to condoms because they’re not remotely evil (unlike Spanx, which are similarly tight but serve a much less important purpose yet have garnered the same title). People often assume that condoms ruin sex or, at the very least, make it less fantastic. According to researchers, however, this is not the case.

In a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine (probably the only medical journal I read stuff from enthusiastically), nearly 6,000 participants ranging from ages 18 to 59 rated their sexual experiences. The responding pool, consisting of both gay and straight female and male Americans, had their answers analyzed by Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University in Bloomington. Apparently, condoms do not actually affect the amount of pleasure humans have during sex.

There was “no significant difference” for men in maintaining an erection with or without a condom, said the study. Satisfaction ratings were high regardless of sex with condom usage, as well. On a less good note, many women could not tell whether or not a condom was lubricated, nor the material it was made from, during the sex act. This signifies the need for more people to be aware of what types of condoms their partners are using, as well as the kind of lubricant since condoms and skin can be affected by different types of lube.

I would love to say I’m an avid condom user who is always ready to whip one out on a dime no matter who the partner is. I have chosen to use them in most situations, but also opted out in others. Having been on all sorts of birth control over the past decade has enabled me to avoid condoms when I’m in a relationship; this is nice, as I personally find them gross in texture and scent (the condoms, not the relationships) (and sometimes the relationships). They’re what would happen if you took a rolling pin to an unagi roll — i.e. disgusting — but they do save lives and mostly protect us from having kids or acquiring STDs. Plus, sex is generally awesome regardless of whether or not a condom is involved, provided you’re not allergic to latex or something of that nature, so any study released that encourages the public to use them more deserves at least a bit of a high-five.

When it comes to condoms, there are three super important things to keep in mind (at least, three that I can think of at the moment):

  1. Proper fit: If it’s too tight, it can break. I know buying Magnums feels really, really weird, but it can be totally necessary if you notice that the condom is squeezing excessively or if normal condoms keep breaking. Likewise, if you’re using condoms that are too big, it can slide off (or get stuff “up around the sides” a la Girls-induced worries).
  2. Care: Make sure they’re not stored in your wallet, are past their expiration dates or have any holes in them.
  3. Application: I would take an instructional video, but I already ate my zucchini for dinner so I think you’ll just have to make due with either your preexisting expert knowledge or another reliable source, preferably one that doesn’t use zucchinis.

So, um, there you have it. Use condoms. Be safe. If you encounter somebody who insists on not using them, let them know that science says sex doesn’t suck regardless! Or just don’t have sex with them because they’re not listening to your health concerns and that’s not really cool.

Photo: Holly Leighanne / Flickr