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Contraception and sexual health : what existing knowledge do 16 - 19 year old young women have and how does this compare with their practice? a surveyHand, Adrienne (University of Bedfordshire, 2007-01)CONTEXT: Rates of Sexually Transmitted Infections are rising and action is still required to reduce unintended teenage pregnancies. This research establishes what knowledge and opinions young women have about preventing pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI's), and determines if they put this knowledge into practice. METHODS: Utilising survey methodology a sample of 16-19 year old young women attending a local Further Education College were invited to complete a confidential questionnaire. RESULTS: Of the young women, 79% were already sexually active with 50% of them becoming sexually active under the age of 16. The majority, 55%, reported knowing 'only a little' about Sexually Transmitted Infections, and although 100% had heard of Chlamydia, only 75% knew that it caused infertility in women and 52% assumed that it was only women that could become infected. Knowledge was slightly better regarding pregnancy, however 28% did not know that sperm can come out of a mans penis prior to ejaculation. All knew about emergency contraception, however only 65% knew that they have as long as 72 hours to access it. 62% of the young women reported having had sex without a condom in the past and only 50% knew that the condom was effective at preventing Sexually Transmitted Infections. CONCLUSION: Although young women are of the opinion that they wish to prevent pregnancy and protect themselves from Sexually Transmitted Infections, the group surveyed do not have the knowledge that allows them to practice 'safe sex' and thus protect their reproductive and sexual health.