Results of a New Multi-national Survey, Endorsed by International Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
London (ots/PRNewswire) - - Young People Report High Levels of Unprotected Sex and Barriers Affecting Their Right to Obtain Trustworthy Information About Sex and Contraception
Key survey results
- Since 2009 the number of people having sex without contraception with a new partner has increased by
- 111% in France (from 19% to 40%), 39% in the USA (from 38% to 53%) and by 19% in Great Britain (from 36% to 43%) [1,2]
- On average, only half of young people surveyed across Europe (55%) receive sex education in school compared to three quarters across Latin America (78%), Asia Pacific (76%) and the USA (74%)
- Over half of the young people surveyed in China, Estonia, Kenya, Korea, Norway and Thailand reported having had unprotected sex with a new partner at least once
- In Egypt 36% of men and women believe that bathing or showering after sex is an effective form of contraception. Having sex during menstruation is considered an effective way to prevent a pregnancy by more than a quarter of respondents in Thailand (28%) and India (26%)
- 42% of respondents in Asia Pacific and 28% in Europe who could not get hold of contraception when they needed it claimed it was because they were too embarrassed to ask a healthcare professional
- 22% of young people across Asia Pacific, 20% across Europe and 14% in Latin America said that their school does not provide a comfortable environment for questions on sexuality and intimacy
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To help address the major issue of unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), international NGOs, including the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), The Population Council and Women Deliver speak out on World Contraception Day to defend young people's right to access accurate and unbiased information on contraception
The third annual multi-national survey, exploring young people's attitudes to sex and contraception, has been launched today to mark World Contraception Day (WCD) 2011, which takes place every year on 26th September. The survey, entitled 'Clueless or Clued Up: Your Right to be informed about contraception,' has shown alarmingly high levels of unprotected sex amongst young people as well as poor knowledge of effective contraceptive options. Furthermore, respondents are avoiding asking healthcare professionals about contraception through embarrassment and many cannot rely on their schools to provide comprehensive sex education.
The survey involved 26 countries and 5,426 young people in Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the USA as well as 600 people in Egypt, Kenya and Uganda and is supported by the WCD Youth Task Force and a coalition of 11 international organizations with an interest in sexual health.
The results are significant as the level of unplanned pregnancies is a major global concern, particularly amongst young people. Worldwide, approximately 41% of the 208 million pregnancies which occur each year are unintended. In addition to this, one in 20 adolescent girls gets a bacterial infection through sexual contact every year and the age at which infections are acquired is becoming younger and younger.
Jennifer Woodside of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, an NGO partner of WCD, 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 STIs. 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. How can young people make decisions that are right for them and protect them from unwanted pregnancy and STIs, if we do not empower them and enable them to acquire the skills they need to make those choices?"
Statistics show that more than 40% of young people in Australia, Chile, Colombia, Great Britain, Indonesia, Lithuania, Mexico, Poland, Singapore, Sweden and Turkey have already had unprotected sex with a new partner - this figure rises to over 50% in China, Estonia, Kenya, Korea, Norway and Thailand. As many as 62% of young Thais have had sex without contraception with a new partner. The problem also seems to be getting worse in some countries with considerable increases since 2009 seen in France (111% - from 19% to 40%), the USA (39% - from 38% to 53%) and Great Britain (19% - from 36% to 43%).[1,2]
When asked why they had had unprotected sex with a new partner, 15% of respondents across Asia Pacific and 14% in Europe said they did not like contraception and 16% in Asia Pacific said their partner preferred not to use it. In Italy the number of people saying they do not like contraception has increased from 3% to 24% since 2010. As many as 23% of young people in Uganda and 13% in Slovenia said they had had sex without contraception with a new partner because they did not want to appear 'uncool'. Across Asia Pacific the main reason respondents could not get contraception when they needed it was because they were too embarrassed to ask a healthcare professional (42%). 28% of young Europeans, 27% of young Latin Americans and 24% of young people from the USA, who could not access contraception when they needed it, also cited this as a problem.
In Europe, Latin America and the USA around half of respondents said they felt very well informed about contraceptive options (46%, 53% and 53% respectively) - this figure was considerably lower in the African countries and Asia Pacific where only a quarter of people felt this way (27% and 25% respectively). Alarmingly, around half of young men and women in Kenya (49%), Uganda (47%), China (51%) and India (50%) said they were not very familiar with the different contraceptive options available to them.
Many respondents who reported that they had experienced problems obtaining contraception when they needed it said that this was because they did not know which method to look for (Latin America 23%, Asia Pacific 22%) or because they did not know where to get it from (France 36%, Sweden 25% and Australia 24%). In addition to this, approximately half of the young people surveyed in some African and European countries believe that the 'withdrawal method' is an effective method of contraception when in fact it is highly unreliable (Uganda 52%, Russia 50% and Turkey 52%). In Egypt 36% of men and women believe that having a bath or a shower after sex would prevent a pregnancy and in Singapore 19% believe this is effective (a 137% increase on 2010 when just 8% believed in this method). Having sex during menstruation is considered an effective form of contraception by more than a quarter of young people in Thailand and India (28% and 26% respectively).
According to the survey, there are many countries where sex education is not provided. Overall in Europe around half of respondents receive sex education (55%) compared to three quarters in Latin America (78%), Asia Pacific (76%) and the USA (74%) and in some European countries, considerably less than half were taught about sex in school (Latvia 34%, Slovenia 35%, Turkey 21%). In Egypt only 12% of young people received any sex education in school. Even in areas where young people are more likely to receive sex education, there are reports of teachers providing information about contraception that the respondents later realised was inaccurate or untrue (Colombia 29%, Estonia 18%, Korea 16%, Great Britain 14% and Mexico 14%) or of the environment at school not being conducive to asking questions about sexuality and intimacy (Asia Pacific 22%, Europe 20%, Latin America 14%).
With the exception of Kenya, Uganda and Egypt, in all regions websites and blogs are the preferred source of information on contraception. Within Europe, with the exception of France and Italy, over half of young people use the internet to get information about contraceptive options.
Denise Keller, TV presenter and producer from Singapore and member of the WCD Youth Task Force, said: "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 - either online or via educational materials they can take home or carry around with them."
World Contraception Day 2011 has been initiated and financed by Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals
1. Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals. Data on file. Talking Sex and Contraception Survey. Fieldwork carried out by TNS Healthcare. July 2009
2. Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals. Data on file. Clueless or Clued Up: Your Right to be informed about contraception Survey. Fieldwork carried out by GFK Healthcare. April - May 2011
3. Singh, S et al. Unintended Pregnancy: Worldwide levels, trends and outcomes. Stud Fam Plann. 2010; 41(4): 241-250
4. WHO 10 facts on sexually transmitted infections, WHO Fact File (Last accessed: August 2011) http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/se xually_transmitted_diseases/facts/en/index2.html
5. Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals. Data on file. Contraception: Whose responsibility is it anyway? Survey. Fieldwork carried out by GFK Healthcare. May 2010
For further information, please contact: Hannah Morris,
Associate Director, Ketchum Pleon, Phone: +44-207-611-3579, E-mail: