Aussie singles know about condoms, but when it comes to talking about birth control, they don’t raise the topic, according to research completed in July 2009, involving 1,000 women and men aged 18 to 45¹.
A national Contraception, Relationships and Sexuality survey, commissioned by pharmaceutical company Schering-Plough, in association with online dating site RSVP, shows more than half (54%) of all Australian singles independently surveyed did not discuss contraception before sex took place with a new partner².
Men were less likely to have the conversation, with 63% of all men surveyed vs 52% of all women surveyed not discussing contraception before having sex with a new partner.
The survey provides valuable insights into what people do when it comes to contraception, children, relationships and fertility, with a focus on women. Its findings have prompted leading Sydney reproductive expert Dr Andrew Zuschmann to urge singles not to become complacent about their sexual health and for women to visit their GP or educational websites.
www.whatcontraceptiveareyou.com.au has information on contraceptive options to suit women’s lifestyles as well as links to all Family Planning Australia websites in each state and territory.
“Safe sex should always be practised; there is simply no excuse. Also of concern is the fact that an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy could occur as a result of unprotected sex,” said Dr Zuschmann, gynaecologist and obstetrician.
He said it was “interesting” the survey showed a high awareness among all participants (90%) that condoms were for both contraception and protection against sexually transmitted infections, but that singles didn’t take the next step and talk about contraception before being intimate.
“Awareness needs to translate into action. If you’re not sexually confident, are new to dating or perhaps returning to the dating scene, you may want to rehearse your chat on contraception before finding yourself in a bind and one that could have serious health consequences,” said Dr Zuschmann.
His comments were reinforced by Lija Jarvis, spokesperson for RSVP, who said, “Dating again can be daunting, especially for those who have been in a committed relationship for a long time and are anxious about the “new” dating rules. In particular, this relates to getting intimate with someone again.
“Naturally, as relationships develop, sex and contraception become hot topics. But, awkwardness or nervousness should never translate into a decision to avoid addressing safe sex or contraception.
“As this is such an important topic and a common issue for our members, we’re delighted to support this survey and encourage people to visit www.whatcontraceptiveareyou.com.au,” she said.
Dr Zuschmann said a good checklist on what to ask before being intimate is:
- Do you have a condom? I’d like us to both be safe. The old saying “if it’s not on it’s not on” still has merit!
- When was your last sexual health check up?
“Based on your partner’s response, you’ll be able to decide if having sex at that moment is something you should actually do,” he said.
Dr Zuschmann also cautioned mature single women to practise safe sex and contraception. “I see a lot of single women in their late 30s and into their 40s in my practice who are searching for Mr Right and, in the process, forget that they could still be fertile. While this may be a romantic concept for movies, the reality of being pregnant to a virtual stranger is far removed.
“Today’s dating singles need to carefully think through the consequences of their actions, especially in relation to contraception and being sexually safe,” he said.
1.Contraception, Relationships and Sexuality survey: July 2009. Based on a self completion survey of 1,000 women and men nationally aged between 18 and 45 years, compiled by independent researcher StollzNow Research.
2.The data does not confirm that safe sex was not practised at all; rather that it was not discussed before sex took place.
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