Almost 60% of young people don’t know how the morning after pill works.
According to the new data from ellaOne, people aged 18-35 have a dangerous lack of knowledge about emergency hormonal contraception (EHC), and it’s leaving them at greater risk of unplanned pregnancy.
The results of a survey of more than 1,000 British 18-35-year-olds, highlighted how vulnerable young people are when it comes to misinformation about the morning after pill.
The most popular sources for advice on sexual health are the internet, or people’s friends – which are the most prone to providing inaccurate information.
Only 44% of respondents had been taught about EHC during their sex education (with 43% of those saying it was only mentioned briefly), and 54% said the internet would now be their first port of call for advice on sexual health.
So it’s no surprise that 54% of those surveyed didn’t know that there is more than one type of morning after pill, and only 41% knew that the morning after pill works by delaying ovulation.
41% of respondents said they believe the morning after pill works by causing a mini abortion.
Worryingly, 47% believe you can only use the morning after pill the morning after having unprotected sex, and 40% believe the morning after pill always causes side effects.
40% believe the morning after pill can make you infertile if you use it too many times and 51% believe you shouldn’t take the morning after pill more than once in the same cycle.
None of these beliefs are correct.
As a result of these misconceptions, many respondents said they are less likely to take the morning after pill following unprotected sex or contraception failure.
16% said they were less inclined to take it because they mistakenly believed it caused a mini abortion, and 25% were less likely to take it because they feared it could make them infertile.
‘It speaks volumes that the most common way for young people to have heard about emergency contraception was from their friends rather than any authoritative, fact-based source,’ says Clare Murphy, from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.
‘Our failure to speak openly about the morning after pill and embrace it as a method women should use as and when they need it means misinformation is rife.’
She added it was vital to ‘dispel dangerous myths’ that may prevent women using the morning after pill in a time of need.
To combat the confusion and stigma that surrounds EHC, ellaOne is launching Fact Not Fiction – an educational campaign about the morning after pill, which will raise awareness of false information, and encourage people to get the facts.
‘Fact Not Fiction is our dedicated response to educate the at-risk demographic about alternative contraceptive methods beyond condoms,’ says ellaOne’s senior brand manager, Emma Marsh.
‘And to dispel the dangerous myths about the morning after pill that are being allowed to compromise people’s contraceptive choices.
‘Our research has uncovered just how much work needs to be done to minimise the chance of unplanned pregnancy and, as a brand, we’re dedicated to shining a light on how emergency contraception works.’
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