Adolescents' descriptions of the physical characteristics of microbicide surrogates and experiences of use

E. Alexandra Zubowicz, Jennifer K. Oakes, Mary B. Short, Michelle M. Perfect, Paul S. Succop, Susan L. Rosenthal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Purpose: Our purpose was to describe adolescent girls' perceptions of microbicide surrogates and experiences of use, including impact on sexual pleasure. Methods: Sexually experienced girls, 14-21 years, were recruited for a study examining microbicide acceptability. The girls were given vaginal moisturizers (gel or suppository) to use as if they were microbicides. Girls (n = 175) discussed their perceptions and experiences of use of these products in response to semistructured interviews. Girls were asked at weekly phone interviews about the impact of product use on their and their partners' sexual pleasure. These answers were averaged, and girls were categorized into those for whom the product predominantely made sex feel worse, better less than half the time, or better half the time or more. The relationship of demographics and sexual history to the impact on pleasure was evaluated. Results: Overall, participants were positive about their experience with the products. More girls preferred the gel. Specific concerns about the suppository included the wait period, texture, and messiness of self-insertion. Many liked the lubricating quality of both of the surrogates. Girls discussed messiness, leakage, clumping, and the difficulties in communicating with partners. Over half reported an increase in pleasure most of the time for themselves and their partners. None of the demographic and sexual history predictors were significantly related to impact on pleasure. Conclusions: Anticipatory guidance should help girls initiate and sustain use. Future research should examine the best way to accomplish counseling about microbicide use with adolescent girls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)952-961
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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