(File photo) A worker watches condoms on a production line.

London - Men and women enjoy sex just as much with condoms as they do without, according to a study.

Researchers reviewing an online questionnaire of the sex habits of men and women aged 18 to 59 found participants consistently rated safe sex as “highly arousing and pleasurable” – the same score as unprotected sex.

Dr Debby Herbenick of Indiana University, who led the study said: “This may be because men are more likely than women to purchase condoms and use them. However, it’s important for women to become familiar with the condoms so that they can make choices that enhance the safety and pleasure of their sexual experiences.”

The study found that men did not find it difficult to maintain erections when putting on condoms. It also found that many women could not tell if the condom was lubricated or not.

Herbenick said the study would help spread health messages in the fight against sexually transmitted infections, HIV and unintended pregnancies.

“We continue to grapple with high rates of sexually transmitted infections, HIV and unintended pregnancies.

“We need to understand how people make choices about the products they use and how these products contribute to the safety and pleasurable aspects of their sexual experiences.”

Sexually transmitted infections are passed on during sex without a condom.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate there are 19 million new infections in the US every year.

Chlamydia is one of the most common types, with 1.3 million cases reported in the US and 152 828 new cases reported among 16 to 24-year-olds in the UK in 2010. If left untreated it can lead to long-term health problems. Other infections include HIV, genital warts, syphilis, gonorrhoea and pubic lice.

Irwin Goldstein, editor of The Journal of Sexual Medicine, said the study continued the work of pioneering sexologist Alfred Kinsey, who founded the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University in 1947.

He said: “Gathering sexual data regarding condom use is highly relevant.

“Understanding current condom use offers health care providers an opportunity to educate those people uncomfortable with condoms but for whom lack of use may lead to significant sexually transmitted infection health risk.” -- Daily Mail