Background: To provide protection against sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, condoms must be used consistently and correctly. However, a significant proportion of couples in the United States fail to do so. Our objective was to determine the demographic and behavioral correlates of inconsistent and incorrect condom use among sexually active, condom-using women.
Methods: Analysis of baseline data from a prospective cohort of sexually active, condom-using women in the Contraceptive CHOICE Project (n = 2087) using self-reported demographic and behavioral characteristics. Poisson regression was used to determine the relative risk of inconsistent and incorrect condom use after adjusting for variables significant in the univariate analysis.
Results: Inconsistent and incorrect condom use was reported by 41% (n = 847) and 36% (n = 757) of women, respectively. A greater number of unprotected acts was most strongly associated with reporting 10 or more sex acts in the past 30 days, younger age at first intercourse, less perceived partner willingness to use condoms, and lower condom use self-efficacy. Incorrect condom use was associated with reporting 10 or more sex acts in the past 30 days, greater perceived risk for future STIs, and inconsistent condom use.
Conclusions: Inconsistent and incorrect condom use is common among sexually active women. Targeted educational efforts and prevention strategies should be implemented among women at highest risk for STIs and unintended pregnancies to increase consistent and correct condom use.