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Young people who talk to parents about relationships 'significantly more likely' to use contraception during sex

The findings are included in a report published today by the HSE and ESRI.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Shutterstock/Yuliya L

ONLY AROUND FOUR in five sexually active young people have said they always use contraception, a new report from the HSE and ESRI has found. 

By age 17, one third of teenagers reported to having had sexual intercourse according to data in the report obtained from the Growing Up in Ireland ’98 cohort.

Furthermore, nearly a quarter of young people expressed regret over the timing around when they first had sex, rising to 31% for young woman compared to 16% of young men.

Study co-author Emer Smyth said its findings show “a significant group of young people are not receiving information or advice on sex from their parents”, which makes learning about sex and relationships in school “all the more important”. 

At age 13, 45% of young people reported that they had discussed sex and relationship issues with their parents. This rose to 60% by the time they reached the age of 17.

In school, 55% of young people said they’d received relationships and sexuality education in school by age 13, rising to 92% of young people by age 17.

At age 13, parents/family were the main source of information about sex, but by age 17 friends were the most commonly cited source (at nearly 50%).

At age 17, nearly a quarter of young men and a fifth of young women said that the internet/TV/books/films were the main source of information. 

Around 60% of young men said they found it difficult or very difficult to talk to their fathers about sex.

Among those who’d reporting having sex, 90% said they’d used contraception the first time they had sex. Young people who’d discussed sex with the parents at age 13 were significantly more likely to have used contraception the first time they had sex, researchers said.

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Smyth added: “The findings support the current move towards considering sexual wellbeing as part of broader school efforts to support young people’s wellbeing.”

For those who were sexually active, just under 80% reporting always sing contraception and 56% reporting using a condom “all the time”. 

Moira Germaine, education and training manager at the HSE’s Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme, said: “What parents do matters; this is confirmed by the finding that parent-child communication about relationships and sexuality in the early adolescent years was associated with contraception use when the children became sexually active as young adults.

Not only can parents have this specific protective influence, they can also help their child to develop all the attitudes, values and behaviours necessary for forming and maintaining healthy relationships, including, in adulthood, healthy sexual relationships.

Germaine added that the HSE was today introducing a range of resources aimed at supporting parents in talking with their children about sexuality, relationships and growing up. They are available to order for free from www.healthpromotion.ie or download from www.sexualwellbeing.ie.

About the author:

Sean Murray

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