Let’s talk Condom Stigma

Condoms play a huge part in safe sex. In fact, condoms are the most commonly used contraceptive by women aged 18-45 years old in Australia. Yet despite this, condom stigma is still alive and it’s on the rise.

Nearly a third (29%) of Aussie women aged between 18-45 years old recently admitted to experiencing fear or receiving judgement for providing a condom during a sexual encounter. Even more unsettling is that sadly this stigma has increased over the last five years! In 2017, only 23% of women indicated fear or receiving judgement during a sexual encounter for providing a condom.
To understand where and how Condoms stigma has come from, let’s take a trip back to 1987. The year when the mass marketing of condoms first began in response to the AIDS epidemic – the ad campaign at that time was based on fear. This led to a massive increase in collective anxiety – in turn, leading to a whopping 116% increase in condom sales*!

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But medical science has advanced since then. We now know that HIV is no longer the death sentence it used to be. And that has made us complacent. Because living in a first world society means we have access to some of the best medical care in the world – if we get sick and contract an STI, a course of antibiotics should fix it, right? Not necessarily! It’s much better to be prepared with a condom.
Some young women feel that they will be judged negatively for pulling out a condom in the heat of the moment. Why? Because old-fashioned stereotypes tell us that these young women are “easy”. And if they feel like they might be judged, they’ll keep the condoms hidden away, while their sexual health takes a back seat.

The impact of condom stigma

Of all the women that have either feared or received judgement, more than half (53%) admitted that it has affected their attitude towards purchasing condoms and in some cases, affected their decision to practice safe sex.

Furthermore, three quarters (72%) of women who have admitted to fearing or receiving judgement for providing a condom have later admitted to having sex without a contraceptive.


This sadly suggests that for many women, the fear or judgement associated with the condom is greater than their ability to advocate for safe sex.

Say yes to sexual safety

One thing to remember however, is that using protection is always better than risking yourself to STIs, STDs , or unwanted pregnancies. Condoms are currently the only single form of contraception that protects against both STDs and unwanted pregnancies. (Although sadly there is still a lot of misinformation surrounding this – but that’s a blog for another day!)

It’s therefore unsurprising that Aussie women have chosen a condom as their priority contraceptive method – why use two things when you can use one eh?

However, if you’ve experienced or felt negative feelings as a result of suggesting using a condom, your confidence may have taken a hit. Rather than questioning yourself about if you did the right thing, ask yourself, “Is it worth being with someone that doesn’t support or respect your decision to feel safe?”.

The answer, quite simply should be no! Your feelings, your body and your voice are valid. You deserve to be heard and respected.

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How do we overcome the stigma?

Culture surrounding sexual health needs to change. Sexual health needs to prioritised to the same level you would prioritise dental health, as a critical part of your overall health and wellness routine.

A collective effort whereby everyone, irrespective of the gender or sexual orientation, is encouraged and supported when taking the reins of their sexual health is one we should strive for. Let’s rise each other up and celebrate those that promote, practice and encourage safe sex rather than than passing judgement on those for wanting to play it safe!

To request a copy of the Moments Condoms & YouGov survey please contact our marketing team on marketing.au@coralhealthcare.com

The findings in this document are the result of a survey conducted by YouGov Plc from 5th – 10th October 2021. The national survey consisted of 1,046 Australian women aged 18-45. Age and region quotas were applied to the sample, and all final data was weighted by age and regions to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.

*Increase in condom sales following AIDS education and publicity, United States. | AJPH | Vol. 80 Issue 5 (aphapublications.org)