Women Are Leaders in Sexual Health

Marketing to Women: Addressing Women and Women's Sensibilities, August 2003 | Go to article overview

Women Are Leaders in Sexual Health


Silly as those new Trojan ads may seem, the company is right to target women as buyers of condoms. A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, in partnership with Self magazine, finds that 71% of women have bought condoms. Almost eight in 10 (79%) have suggested using a condom at some point, and nearly four in 10 (38%) currently have condoms in their home. A third (33%) have been in a situation where they wanted to use a condom and their partner tried to talk them out of it, but only 6% of women have ever tried to talk a partner out of using one. Not surprisingly, single women are most likely to keep condoms on hand at home and to carry them when they go out. They're also more likely than married or cohabiting women to feel comfortable buying condoms.

Women choose contraceptives first and foremost on the basis of how well the product prevents pregnancy, followed by how easy it is to use and how well it prevents STDs.

Awareness of emergency contraceptive methods has improved since the Foundation surveyed women three years ago. Two thirds (67%) of women know about emergency contraception in 2003, up from 51% in 2000 and 41% in 1997. However, only 6% have ever used emergency contraception.

Single women who are sexually active say they're more likely than their partners to initiate discussions about sexual health issues, although in many cases both partners share responsibility for initiating discussions and taking care of sexual health matters.

When women don't discuss sexual health issues with their partners, it's most often due to concern about what the partner will think of them (52% agree strongly; 36% agree somewhat), embarrassment (44% strongly; 44% somewhat), fear the partner will leave them (41% strongly; 39% somewhat), or not knowing how to bring up the subject (40% strongly; 45% somewhat).

Women are far less concerned about getting HIV or other STDs than they are about getting cancer, even though the incidence of STDs is much higher than that of cancer. They're also much less likely to speak to their doctors about HIV (50%) or other STDs (52%) than they are to talk about health concerns such as breast self-exams (92%), birth control (88%), weight/physical activity (79%), or blood pressure (74%). …

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