Australian youth mostly ignorant about sexual health

Young Australians appear to be largely ignorant about their sexual health says a large survey of more than one-thousand 18-to-35 year olds.

The survey found that most of the young people do not know about Pap smears, sexually transmitted infections and how the contraceptive pill works.

One in 10 men believes the pill protects a woman against sexually transmitted infections, like gonorrhea and Chlamydia. One in five do not know that STIs can affect their fertility. Nearly half of all those surveyed wrongly believe Pap smears for cervical cancer can also pick up sexually transmitted infections.

The survey was carried out in July for private health insurer Bupa, and also found four in 10 young Australians do not know when a woman is most likely to fall pregnant.

Country Awareness Network chief executive Adam Wright said it was frustrating that some schools still lagged behind in sex education. “In Victoria there is a whole approach in terms of the curriculum with it being integrated then just leaving it up to the gym teacher…Some schools do it really well and some need to catch up. But it’s vitally important. It should start in the home because we know that people’s first sexual experiences are happening earlier,” he said.

Bupa’s head of clinical advisory Stan Goldstein said arming young people with the right knowledge was an important part of helping them make the right sexual health choices. “The level of misinformation about sexual health should be a concern, particularly given recent figures which show the incidence of STIs has been increasing again in Australia,” he said.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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