Unsafe Sex Common When Partner Cheats: Study

FRIDAY, June 15 (HealthDay News) -- People who have sexual affairs without their partner's knowledge are less likely to practice safe sex than those who have their partner's consent to have sex with others, a new study says.

These secret cheaters also were more likely to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of their sexual encounters, the researchers found.

The University of Michigan study included more than 1,600 people who responded to an online ad. About 800 said they'd had sex with someone other than their primary partner. Of those, nearly 500 said the sex happened as part of a negotiated non-monogamous relationship, and about 300 said they were sexually unfaithful while in a monogamous relationship.

Those who were sexually unfaithful were 27 percent and 35 percent less likely to have used condoms for vaginal and anal sex, respectively, and 64 percent more likely to have used drugs and alcohol when they had their secret sexual encounters.

The study was published in the June issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

"Our research suggests that people who are unfaithful to their monogamous romantic partners pose a greater risk for STIs [sexually transmitted infections] than those who actively negotiate non-monogamy in their relationship," study author Dr. Terri Conley, of the university's psychology department, said in a journal news release.

"Monogamy can be an effective method for preventing the spread of STIs, but only if couples test negative for STIs at the start of the relationship and remain faithful while they are together. If people do not find monogamy appealing or feasible, they clearly need to think about the risk this poses to their partner and consider whether an open relationship would suit their needs better, and better protect their relationship partners," Conley noted.

More information

The Hassle Free Clinic in Toronto offers safe sex tips.

SOURCE: Journal of Sexual Medicine, news release, June 14, 2012

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