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Policy in place to support effective use of contraception

A key public health policy is to support effective contraception use and avoid unwanted pregnancies, particularly for young women.

A key public health policy is to support effective contraception use and avoid unwanted pregnancies, particularly for young women. This study investigated the actual and preferred contraceptive sources of young adults and whether any discordance between these sources was associated with sexual risk taking. 

contraception use
Investigating the keys in supporting effective contraception use. Picture: iStock

Of the 3869 men and women age 16 to 24, more than 86% heterosexually active individuals (n=2852) reported obtaining contraceptives in the past year. The most common sources were general practice (63% women) and retail (60% men). Healthcare services were reported as the preferred source (81% women, 51% men).

Over a third reported not using their preferred source (39% men, 32% women). This discordance was higher among women who usually used a less effective method of contraception or had an abortion.  

Commissioners of health services need to ensure the full range of contraception is available through general practice and local pharmacies to meet young people’s preferred source of contraception.


Geary RS, Tomes C, Jones KG et al (2016) Actual and preferred contraceptive sources among young people: findings from the British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. BMJ Open. 6, 9:e011966. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-011966.

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