Rising number of young people having unprotected sex: Survey

A new study showed that the proportion of young people admitting to having had unprotected sex with a new partner has risen over the past two years.

A study of British 16 to 19-year-olds has shown 61% have had sex, with 43% of those who were sexually active admitting to having had sex with a new partner without using contraception compared to 36% in 2009. Of those who admitted having had unprotected sex with a new partner, 23% said they had done so because their partner did not like using contraception, with 15% saying they had been drunk and forgot.

The proportion of girls who said they had a close friend or family member who had an unplanned pregnancy rose from 36% in 2009 to 55% this year. Only 55% of girls said they considered themselves to be very well-informed about all the contraceptive options available compared to 62% of boys, according to the study. Boys considered themselves better educated about what contraception was available, with 62% of male survey participants describing themselves as “very informed”.

A total of 16% of boys and girls said they believed the “withdrawal method” was an effective form of contraception. Nearly one in five girls, 19%, and 16% of boys said they did not receive any kind of sex education at school, with 16% of boys and girls saying they did not trust their teachers to provide accurate and unbiased information about contraceptive choices.

Researchers surveyed 200 British young people as part of a study of 6,026 15 to 24-year-olds in 29 countries conducted in April and May. The findings have been released to coincide with World Contraception Day, a campaign to improve awareness of contraception.

Jennifer Woodside, of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, said, “What the results show is that too many young people either lack good knowledge about sexual health, do not feel empowered enough to ask for contraception or have not learned the skills to negotiate contraceptive use with their partners to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies or sexual transmitted infections. What young people are telling us is that they are not receiving enough sex education or the wrong type of information about sex and sexuality. It should not come as a surprise then that the result is many young people having unprotected sex and that harmful myths continue to flourish in place of accurate information.”

Doortje Braeken from the Adolescents and Young People for the International Planned Parenthood Federation said, “We think the median age in this country is around 16-17 years old that young people get sexually active. There are some excellent sexual health education programs in this country. But still some young people say we don't trust teachers completely. Quite a lot of young people are still afraid to go to services. Whether it's true or not, they fear that the services are not confidential. I think that's one of the major issues why young people don't go to services. They think 'maybe they'll tell my parents'. There's still this fear of shame around it.”

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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