Condoms Can Be Fun, Too

"I am very skeptical that this will be effective in the long term, but it would certainly encourage men, including teenagers, to be more willing to try them and perhaps accept them," said Dr. Martin Kafka, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard University in Boston.

Though shifting condom messages into more pleasurable territory may not be a silver bullet, Kafka says it may be worthwhile to try this approach.

"Any method or marketing strategy that encourages safer sex practices and reduces the risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases is worthy of investigation," he said.

Could the Pleasure Message Appeal to Teens?

Though the study examined in "Viewpoint" dealt largely with HIV-prone populations in Africa, experts say the findings could also help tailor more effective safe sex messages directed at teens in the United States.

"Safer sex messages have been mired by a hesitation or fear that if we even promote condoms we might promote more sexual behavior, particularly among youth," Coleman said.

"However, there are a myriad of other factors that are influencing sexual behaviors and practices. Condom promotion has only helped increase responsible sexual behavior rather than encourage greater sexual activity," Coleman said.

Ogden says there is no basis for the idea that teaching teens about the pleasurable aspects of sex leads to promiscuity.

"In fact, when teens are taught responsible sex -- along with any other kind of responsibility, like wearing a seat belt and using directional signals when driving a car -- they tend to become safer, happier, more confident human beings," he said.

Such promotion efforts could resonate with teens, a demographic not typically known for its attention to messages on safety.

"Teens feel they are invincible," Coleman said. "They are not focused on reproduction or worried about getting old or sick. For those that are sexually active -- and most of them are -- they are looking for ways to enhance pleasure, develop relationships, and enhance their self esteem."

"Many adolescents and young adults are far more interested in being adventurous than practical or prudent, whether it's how they drive, how they snowboard, or how they act on their sexual urges," said Linda De Villers, licensed psychologist and author of "Love Skills: A Fun, Upbeat Guide to Sex-cessful Relationships."

Marketing the 'Sex Toys of the Future'

According to the "Viewpoint," condom brands that emphasize a ribbed or studded design to increase pleasure have sold well in Uganda, where HIV/AIDS remains a problem.

Thus, the authors write, adding pleasure into the equation has the potential to boost condom use even further, reducing the spread of disease.

Now, some say, the onus is on manufacturers to develop and promote new product lines -- ones that enhance stimulation for parties on both sides of the latex.

"It blows my mind that the condom companies themselves are so lacking in unique designs and interesting advertising plans," said Suzie Heumann, president of, Inc. and author of "The Everything Great Sex Book."

"Condoms could actually be the new sex toys of the future -- and without batteries -- with design changes, additions, and a new advert campaign," she said.

And shifting the focus to pleasure, Hutcherson says, makes condoms no less effective in preventing disease and pregnancy.

"All of this puts the focus on increased pleasure during sex, and the protection against STIs is a wonderful 'side effect' or bonus," Hutcherson said. "It seems to work better than the typical 'protection against STIs' message."

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