Results of a New Multi-National Survey, Endorsed by International Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)

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


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

London, 26th September /PRNewswire/ — 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.2

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.3 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. 4

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.2

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.2

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).5 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).2

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%).2

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.2

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, under the motto ‘Live Your Life, Know your rights. Learn about contraception,’ focuses on the right of young people to access accurate and unbiased information about contraception in order to prevent an unplanned pregnancy or STI. WCD has joined forces with MTV around the world this year to raise awareness of sexual health issues.


NOTES TO EDITORS:


About the multi-national survey


The ‘Clueless or Clued Up: Your Right to be informed about contraception’ survey, 20112

The ‘Clueless or Clued Up: Your Right to be informed about contraception’ survey was carried out between April and May 2011 on behalf of Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals. The fieldwork was carried out by GFK Healthcare. 6,026 young people were interviewed across 29 countries including: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Chile, Colombia, Estonia, Egypt, France, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, USA, and Venezuela.

In Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Kenya, Uganda and the USA, interviewees comprised 2,913 males and 2,913 females aged between 15 and 24 years old. In Egypt, interviewees comprised 100 males and 100 females who were both married and at least 22 years old.

For the purpose of the multi-national survey, GFK interviewed young people online, by telephone, or in face-to-face conversation, according to the market research needs of the local area. Interviewees were independently sourced by GFK.

The 'Contraception: Whose responsibility is it anyway?' survey, 20105


The ‘Contraception: Whose responsibility is it anyway?’ survey was carried out between April and May 2010. The fieldwork was carried out by GFK Healthcare. A total of 5,253 interviews were conducted among young people in 25 countries including: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Great Britain, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, USA and Venezuela

The 'Talking Sex and Contraception' Survey, 20091


The ‘Talking Sex and Contraception’ Survey was carried out in two parts. The first part was commissioned by Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals and involved 15 countries and 3,230 young people. The fieldwork was carried out by TNS Healthcare. The second part was commissioned through MTV and involved 2,144 young people across six countries in Latin America. The fieldwork was carried out by Online Testing Exchange (OTX). Countries included were: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Great Britain, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, USA and Venezuela.

Although these survey results report on the incidence of unprotected sex, it is important to note that contraception should always be used to prevent an unplanned pregnancy and/or STI when having sex with a new partner and during a stable relationship.

About the Youth Task Force

The ‘Youth Task Force’ (YTF), has come together to encourage young people to talk to people they trust about sex and contraception and take responsibility for their sexual health. The YTF was established to provide a ‘credible’ and ‘trusted’ voice to speak to young people and is made up of well known, passionate and open-minded young people from around the world, specifically selected because they inspire young people.

The Youth Task Force members are listed below. For further information about individual members, please refer to the Youth Task Force media backgrounder.

  • Brooke Brodack, video blogger, USA
  • Claire Oelkers, singer, actress and TV presenter, Germany
  • Denise Keller, TV presenter / producer, Singapore
  • Diana Angel, singer, actress and TV presenter, Colombia
  • Imane Khachani, physician, Morocco
  • Mia Lee, journalist and video blogger, China
  • Phelipe Cruz, journalist and blogger, Brazil
  • Stuart Heritage, journalist, UK

World Contraception Day

World Contraception Day takes place on 26th September every year and has been initiated and financed by Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals. The annual worldwide campaign centres around a vision for a world where every pregnancy is wanted. Launched in 2007, WCD’s mission is to improve awareness of contraception to enable young people to make informed decisions on their sexual and reproductive health.

WCD is supported by a coalition of 11 international NGOs and scientific and medical societies with an interest in sexual and reproductive health. The NGOs and societies involved in WCD are:

  • Asian Pacific Council on Contraception (APCOC)
  • Centro Latinamericano Salud y Mujer (CELSAM)
  • European Society of Contraception and Reproductive Health (ESC)
  • Deutsche Stiftung für Weltbevölkerung (DSW)
  • International Federation of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology (FIGIJ)
  • International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)
  • Marie Stopes International (MSI)
  • Population Services International (PSI)
  • The Population Council
  • The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • Women Deliver

About Bayer Healthcare

The Bayer Group is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, nutrition and high-tech materials. Bayer HealthCare, a subgroup of Bayer AG with annual sales of EUR 16.9 billion (2010), is one of the world’s leading, innovative companies in the healthcare and medical products industry and is based in Leverkusen, Germany. The company combines the global activities of the Animal Health, Consumer Care, Medical Care and Pharmaceuticals divisions. Bayer HealthCare’s aim is to discover and manufacture products that will improve human and animal health worldwide. Bayer HealthCare has a global workforce of 55,700 employees (Dec 31, 2010) and is represented in more than 100 countries. Find more information at www.bayerhealthcare.com

References

  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/sexually_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

UK.PH.WH.WH.2011.395b, date prepared September 2011