College students may know a lot about a lot of things, but they don’t know much about sex.
Or at least they don’t know much about what they should do for sex protection.
A new survey by Teva Women’s Health, Inc. showed a majority of sexually active college students fail to use contraception every time. But only a small number are concerned about an unintended pregnancy. The study, according to Teva, the maker of Plan B, an emergency contraception tablet, students were measured for their “EC IQ” knowledge, referring to Emergency Contraception IQ.
It wasn’t clear if the survey, released this past week, including students from Southern California schools such as UCLA, USC and Cal State Los Angeles.
“The survey revealed 64 percent of 2,638 sexually active college students surveyed are using contraception inconsistently, yet only 15 percent of students sampled believe they are at high risk of an unintended pregnancy,” according to the company. “This disconnect between contraception use and perceived risk is particularly noteworthy, given prior research shows 45 percent of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended and 41 percent of those pregnancies are due to inconsistent use of contraception.”
In the survey, 69 percent of students revealed an unintended pregnancy “would be highly disruptive to their lives, though many did not know some of the most basic facts about over-the-counter emergency contraception that helps prevent pregnancy when used as directed after unprotected sex or birth control failure. Teva makes the emergency contraception that was a prime concern in the company’s survey, and officials dutifully warned that emergency contraception “should not be used as regular birth control because it is not as effective.”
“With the unintended pregnancy rate in the U.S. remaining high and college students reporting having sex without consistent, regular contraception use, it’s important they know how OTC EC works and where to get it if they need it,” said Dr. Justin Garcia, lead researcher for the survey and an expert in sexual health at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University. “These survey findings clearly illustrate the need for more open and honest discussion about reproductive health, contraception, and OTC EC.”
In the survey, EC IQ was assessed by asking 3,600 respondents a series of 12 questions on OTC EC, including what is required to purchase it in the U.S., how it works, what it is and what it is not. The survey revealed many were not well informed about OTC EC, specifically:
— 62 percent of students falsely believed there was an age restriction to purchase OTC EC.
— 53 percent were unaware an I.D. is not necessary to purchase OTC EC. In fact, OTC EC has been available in the U.S. without an age restriction or I.D. requirement since 2013.
— 57 percent of students were not aware OTC EC should be taken up to 72 hours following unprotected sex or birth control failure. The sooner it’s taken, the better it works, according to officials.
After evaluating what students know about OTC EC, the survey assessed a range of lifestyle and demographic factors to investigate what may contribute to a lower or higher EC IQ. On average, the survey found students with a higher EC IQ include: women, students who think about sex often, students in committed dating relationships, students who attend private colleges and students who identify as “night owls.”
Students with a lower EC IQ include: men, students who have had more sexual partners in the last year, students who frequently use dating apps, students who attend single-sex colleges and students who play varsity sports.
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