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Last Updated: Oct 11, 2012 - 10:22:56 PM
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FPA survey reveals widespread misunderstanding about sex and reproduction

Feb 12, 2007 - 6:27:57 AM , Reviewed by: Dr. Priya Saxena
“In today’s sexualised society, we are bombarded with a multitude of sexual imagery and messages. Nevertheless, providing people with the information and skills they need to make positive choices about their health and lives is not considered a priority.”

[RxPG] Launching this year’s Contraceptive Awareness Week (Reproduction: a quick guide to your body, 12th-18th February), fpa has published a new survey testing people’s knowledge about sex and reproduction. The results expose widespread confusion and misunderstanding about some of the most basic facts. Consequently fpa is calling for sex and relationships education to become a statutory subject in the national curriculum.

The survey was conducted by Gfk NOP and is based on common questions asked by callers to fpa's national helpline. Respondents were given a choice of answers, the results are below.

Answering 'what would stop a woman from becoming pregnant if she did it immediately after sex' a total of 29% of respondents either thought that short bursts of vigorous exercise (jumping and dancing around), douching or urinating would stop fertilisation or said they didn’t know if it wouldn’t work.

Half (50%) the respondents gave the wrong answer or didn’t know when a woman’s most fertile time is (the time in her menstrual cycle when she is able to get pregnant).

The majority of those questioned (89%) gave the wrong answer or didn’t know that it is possible for sperm to live inside a woman’s body for up to seven days.

24% incorrectly thought that pre-ejaculate (the fluid a man produces before he ejaculates or ‘comes’) does not contain sperm or didn’t know.

Finally respondents were asked to judge the sex education they received at school. Only 4% said it was excellent. Most respondents answered negatively: a combined 39% said it was either poor or extremely poor, whilst 25% said it was adequate and 18% said they never had any.

Anne Weyman, Chief Executive, fpa said:

“This survey exposes how far the current system of providing sex education is failing and also that people are acutely aware that it is letting them down. Reproductive biology is the only statutory part of the national curriculum and even this isn't achieving acceptable educational standards.”

“In today’s sexualised society, we are bombarded with a multitude of sexual imagery and messages. Nevertheless, providing people with the information and skills they need to make positive choices about their health and lives is not considered a priority.” she continued.

“The consequences of Government not taking action to make sex and relationships education compulsory will be continued poor levels of sexual health across all groups in society, and especially the young.”

“None of us are born with the facts about sex and reproduction we are taught them” Anne continued. “If this doesn’t happen, myths start getting into circulation and people end up not being able to tell fact from fiction. If contraception isn’t used or if it fails, instead of seeking professional help and advice people may take action that is completely ineffective in preventing a pregnancy.”

“One in five pregnancies ends in abortion so the effects of this reaches far into people’s lives. It is now time to make sex and relationships education a statutory subject in schools and invest properly in contraception services.”

Original posters designed especially for the week have been sent to over 2,000 health and other professionals across the country. Electronic images are available.

For further information please contact fpa ’s press office on 020 7608 5265/5254. Mobile 07958 921060.

fpa (Family Planning Association) is the only registered charity working to improve the sexual health and reproductive rights of all people throughout the UK.

On the web: http://www.fpa.org.uk 

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 Additional information about the news article
1. Gfk NOP interviewed 495 adults aged over 18 during December 2006 (7th-12th December) across Great Britain. Weighting was applied to the data to bring it into line with national profiles. The full questions and answers are listed at the end of this release.
2. Office of National Statistics 2004

The first Contraceptive Awareness Week took place in 1997. The week is run every year by fpa to highlight various aspects of contraceptive choice.
A longer sex quiz where people can test their knowledge about reproduction is hosted online. Quiz questions are available from the press office. The sex quiz, campaign posters and more information about the week can be viewed at www.fpa.org.uk .
Sexual health direct, fpa ’s helpline and information service receives over 80,000 enquiries a year about contraception and sexual health and provides details of local clinic services. The helpline number is 0845 310 1334 and is open 9–6pm Monday–Friday.
For any corrections of factual information, to contact the editors or to send any medical news or health news press releases, use feedback form

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