'Sex without condoms can keep you sane'

Andy McSmith
Tuesday 04 August 2009 00:00 BST

People who frequently have straight sex without a condom are generally in better mental health than the rest of the population, according to a Scottish psychologist.

After 25 years of the government exhorting teenagers to use condoms, a study by Professor Stuart Brody, from the University of the West of Scotland, suggests that it is probably the worst way to avoid pregnancy. The pill is less likely to leave either partner feeling stressed or depressed.

His conclusions will alarm groups trying to combat the spread of sexual disease among the young but Professor Brody argues that it is not unprotected sex that causes sexual diseases, but anal sex, sex with strangers who might be infected and using dirty needles to inject drugs. “I have an interest in the best possible science,” he said. “I don’t want to let anything get in the way, whether its political correctness, or religion. I have deliberately not used the term ‘heterosexual sex’.

The issue here is the one evolutionarily relevant form of sexual behaviour, and one specific form of contraception, which is not even the most effective one. “Evolution is not politically correct, so of the very broad range of potential sexual behaviour, there is actually only one that is consistently associated with better physical and mental health and that is the one sexual behaviour that would be favoured by evolution. That is not accidental.”

His conclusions are based on a survey of 111 Portuguese men and 99 women, who answered questions about their sex lives. The results suggest that ‘evolutionarily relevant’ sex is good at preventing depression, suicidal tendencies and emotional immaturity but a condom will get in the way of all these benefits.

The results are the same for couples in stable arrangements or heterosexuals who are sleeping around. “Possible explanations for the interference of condoms with the health benefits of penile-vaginal intercourse include blocking of anti-depressant and immunological agents in semen and genital secretions [and] reduced sexual satisfaction and intimacy,” Professor Brody wrote in a letter to be published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour.

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