New Study: Unprotected Sex among Young People on the Rise

By Rebecca Jones

According to a new report issued Monday; all over the world more young people are having unprotected sex and are uninformed about contraception than they were three years ago.

In preparation for World Contraception Day (WCD), a multinational panel prepared their “Clueless or Clued Up: Your Right to be Informed about Contraception” study. What they found was that the number of young people having unprotected sex with a new partner had gone up as much as 111% in France to 19% in Britain and 39% in the US just in the last three years.

In an age where most people have access to the internet it may seem surprising that there are still so many young people who are uninformed about contraception methods but unfortunately all too many myths and misconceptions persist.

Denise Keller, a member of the WCD team explained it this way:

“No matter where you are in the world, barriers exist which prevent teenagers from receiving trustworthy information about sex and contraception, which is probably why myths and misconceptions remain so widespread even today.”

“When young people have access to contraceptive information and services, they can make choices that affect every aspect of their lives which is why it’s so important that accurate and unbiased information is easily available for young people to obtain.”

In order to conduct their research the WCD group spoke with over 6,000 young people from 26 countries. Regardless of the country they consistently found that young people were not given access to unbiased, quality sex education. In fact in Europe only 50% of the surveys’ respondents reported receiving sex education at school compared to 75% in most other parts of the world. More than 30% of respondents in Egypt believed that bathing after sex would prevent pregnancy and more than 25% of respondents from Thailand and India believed pregnancy could be prevented by having intercourse during menstruation. Embarrassment at having to ask a healthcare provider for or about contraception was also a theme amongst respondents.

What we learn from this study is that we need to create ease of access to important information regarding sexual health. The blanket of shame over all issues sexual in nature allows unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases to flourish.

Jennifer Woodside, spokeswoman for the International Planned Parenthood Federation, sums it up:

“The results show 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 STIs (sexually transmitted infections).”