These Results From An International Contraception Survey Are Both Encouraging And Worrying

by | Sep 26, 2019 | Health

World Contraception Day takes place each year on 26 September and focuses on putting sexual rights and family planning in the spotlight across more than 70 countries. The day strives to create political, media and public awareness about these issues and works to highlight the efforts of the Your Life campaign, whose vision is a world in which every pregnancy is wanted.

This year, World Contraception Day (WCD) is celebrating its 12th global anniversary and the WCD Coalition has released the results of an international survey, conducted by GfK Healthcare, concerning perceptions of sex and contraception. 3 013 young women and men, aged 13 to 25, from countries in Europe, Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America and North America were surveyed to begin to better understand young people’s attitudes towards sex and contraception.

READ MORE: 12 Contraceptives You Should Think About Trying — Other Than The Pill

The Survey Results

  • Worldwide, there are 208 million pregnancies each year. Of these, 41 percent (around 85.28 million) are unplanned and an estimated 33 million of these are a result of contraceptive failure or incorrect use.
  • 11 percent of all births are to women aged 15 to 19 years, which equals around 16 million adolescent pregnancies per year.
  • Rates of unprotected sex worldwide rose from 36 percent in 2009 to 64.5 percent today. In South Africa, 56 percent of the participants had unprotected sex. The most common reason why? Respondents, 34.3 percent of them (compared to 25.3 percent internationally), believe that unintended pregnancy is not very likely. A further 31.4 percent didn’t want “to spoil the fun”, in line with 28.1 percent of respondents worldwide.
  • Respondents from all countries (90.3 percent) indicated that they would like contraception to be a less taboo topic, although 81.6 percent of respondents say that they are not ashamed to discuss contraception with a partner before having sex.
  • In South Africa, 70 percent of those surveyed said that school was their primary source of information about sex and contraception, while internationally, 52.8 percent felt the same. However, respondents across all countries said that they were unsatisfied with the information offered by schools.
  • The majority of South Africans identified contraception as a priority in the bedroom and said that if a partner refused to use contraception it would be a deal-breaker.
  • Internationally, 77.2 percent of respondents said that protected sex is more fun because it is more relaxed and passionate.
  • When it comes to specific types of contraception, condoms and the pill were the best-known forms and are considered to be the most reliable (internationally, 88.5 percent consider condoms to be reliable, while 72.8 percent consider the pill to be reliable, in line with results from South African respondents). Use of the withdrawal method has fallen from 36 percent to 15.5 percent across all countries.

READ MORE: Everything You Need To Know About The NuvaRing

Making Sense Of The Results

It is clear that there is a lot more work to be done in raising awareness about the use of contraception, not only to avoid unwanted pregnancies, but as protection against STIs as well. “The results are both encouraging and worrying,” said Tasniem Patel, head of communications at Bayer, a pharmaceutics company. “The good news is that the overall knowledge about contraception methods seems to have improved. The bad news is that more young people are having unprotected sex than in previous years.”

READ MORE: 9 Struggles All Women Who Take The Pill Can Relate To

With the majority of respondents citing schools and teachers as their primary source of information on sex and contraceptions, but with the vast majority of those unsatisfied with the information provided, it is of the utmost importance for schools to focus more attention on the sex education they provide. We also need to work towards erasing the taboo element that is associated with discussing contraceptions. “Our goal is to educate and empower young people to encourage them to talk openly about sex and contraception with current and future partners, as well as their doctor, teachers and their parents,” says Patel. “For this, we need to work together to hopefully make a real difference to the lives of young people around the world.”

For the Youth and Contraception Report: A Survey of Global Youth Perceptions of Sex and Contraception and for information on contraceptions, visit

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