A new poll finds that teens in a number of countries are having unsafe sex in increasing numbers — and their reasons for forgoing protection are pretty depressing.
Reuters reports that the poll, conducted in honor of World Contraception Day, found that the number of teens having unprotected sex in the US increased 39% over the last three years. In Britain, that figure was 19%, and in France, a full 111%. The most common reason for not using contraception was not having any available — teens mentioned running out of contraceptives, fearing that parents would find them, or being too embarrassed to ask doctors about obtaining them. Other reasons included a partner who preferred not to use it (the second most common reason in Asia and the US), preferring not to use it themselves, getting drunk and forgetting, and feeling that contraception is not "cool." Both preferring not to use protection and seeing it as uncool were most often reported by men, which underscores the need to teach men as well as women the importance of safe sex. It doesn't do any good to teach girls to insist on condoms if their partners are going to refuse. And gynecologists can't be the only source of contraceptive information — someone needs to give this information to boys and men as well. Says the report,
These results indicate a continued need for comprehensive sex education teaching young people about the risks associated with sexual intercourse without using contraception, particularly with a new partner and how to assert their sexual health rights in a way that feels comfortable within their cultural environment.
Access to contraception and instructions for proper use are undeniably important, but teens also need strategies for fitting contraception into their relationships and their lives. And across the world, they're not getting them.
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