Condoms Aren't Cool to Freshman Girls

Condom use steadily declines with first year college women

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) If you’re daughter is in her first year of college, it might be a good time to remind her about the importance of safe sex. According to new research, freshman girls use condoms less and less as the year progresses.

“College women often engage in serial monogamy, resulting in multiple partners during the college years, and they are often unaware of their partners' risk,” says lead author Jennifer Walsh, Ph.D., of Miriam Hospital’s Center for Behavioral and Preventative Medicine.

“This makes continued condom use important for women's health.”

"Talk to your kids about the importance of protected sex."

This study questioned 279 first-year, female college students monthly regarding condom usage. At the start of the year, their previous GPA, religious beliefs, parents’ education levels, marijuana usage, and alcohol habits were assessed.

In terms of initial usage, girls admitting to smoking marijuana before college reported using more condoms than others. On the contrary, African American girls used fewer condoms to start, as well as those with more sexual partners. Girls who felt alcohol influenced the sexual drive more also used condoms less.

The researchers predicted a gradual decline in all girls from point zero, and when they analyzed the data with a technique called latent growth modeling, they discovered they were right.

Girls used less and less condoms, and the only strong predictor of this behavior was prior binge drinking.  High school G.P.A. and a high socio-economic status of family, on the other hand, correlated with a slower decline.

This is the first study to acknowledge a decline in condom usage in freshman girls, and Mather believes, “Identifying the demographic and behavioral changes associated with decreases in condom use can eventually lead to more targeted educational and intervention efforts.”

Published in the Journal of Sex Research and funded through the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there were no conflicts of interest included in the report.

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Review Date: 
February 29, 2012
Last Updated:
January 2, 2014