Medical Practice

Sexual Behaviour and Contraceptive Practice of Unmarried Female Undergraduates at Aberdeen University

Br Med J 1972; 2 doi: (Published 17 June 1972) Cite this as: Br Med J 1972;2:694
  1. C. McCance,
  2. D. J. Hall


    After the sixth week of the spring term of 1971 the unmarried female undergraduates at Aberdeen University were sent a postal questionnaire about their sexual behaviour and contraceptive practice and 1,552 (90%) replied. Of these, 684 (44%) had experienced intercourse, 486 in the six-week period preceding the study, of whom 46% had had it more than six times in this period. It was found that 86% of the relationships were with fiancés or steady partners.

    Only half of the experienced and a quarter of the inexperienced girls thought that contraceptive advice and materials were adequately available. Contraceptives had not been used by 53% of the students on the first occasion that they had intercourse. In the previous six-week period 192 girls had intercourse without using a contraceptive -39% of those having sexual relations. The use of contraceptives increased with the frequency of intercourse and the stability of the relationship. During the previous six weeks 30% of those having intercourse were on the pill, 38% used the sheath, and 26% relied on the safe period or withdrawal as their most frequent method of contraception.

    Sixty-five girls had been pregnant in the past, six were pregnant at the time of the survey, and 49 thought that they might be.

    The uncertainty and difficulty that are experienced in obtaining contraceptives and the large number of occasions on which they are not used are discussed. Moral and pragmatic aspects of promoting a more effective use are examined and better publicity for the family planning clinics that already exist is urged.

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