Conflicting advice? Australian adolescents' use of condoms or the pill.Fam Plann Perspect. 1999 Jul-Aug; 31(4):190-4.FP
Teenagers are exposed to two potentially conflicting sexual health messages, one emphasizing the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and the other stressing pregnancy prevention. To protect teenagers from both STDs and unwanted pregnancy, it is important to know what method choices they make and why.
Data from a 1997 national survey of 3,550 Australian secondary school students were used to examine teenagers' method choice and patterns of advice-seeking about contraception and STD prevention. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to identify factors associated with the exclusive use of condoms or the pill.
Virtually all 961 currently sexually active students were using at least one contraceptive method--primarily condoms (78%) or the pill (45%). Some 31% were using condoms exclusively, and 10% were using the pill exclusively. Older students and those who had sought contraceptive advice had elevated odds of using the pill rather than condoms exclusively (odds ratios, 4.4 and 2.6, respectively), while those who had had only casual partners in the last year had a reduced likelihood of exclusive pill rather than condom use (0.1). Furthermore, the more students believed that their peers used condoms, the less likely they were to report exclusive pill use (0.4). Parents were the most frequent source of advice about contraception, followed by physicians and teachers. The most common sources of advice about HIV and other STDs were parents, teachers and then physicians.
Young people must be educated about the distinction between safer sex and contraception, and about how to prevent both STDs and pregnancy. Providing parents with current sexual health information may help to improve young people's sexual health.