Sex survey reflects 'failure of contraceptive education in S'pore': Experts

PHOTO: Sex survey reflects 'failure of contraceptive education in S'pore': Experts

SINGAPORE - According to a recent online survey, Singaporeans are increasingly relying on the 'withdrawal' method to prevent pregnancies.

The method involves the man pulling out his penis before ejaculation during sexual penetration.

Contrary to the misconception that it is a contraception method, experts say it is in fact a situation where things are out of control.

Dr Christopher Ng, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Camden Medical Centre, told The Straits Times that this method is ineffective in preventive pregnancies as it is extremely risky - especially for younger women who are more fertile.

He explained that this is because pre-ejaculation can still lead to pregnancies.

Despite the dangers, 21.3 per cent of Singaporeans in the 2010 survey said they use the withdrawal method - a twofold increase from the 10.5 per cent in 1999.

Singapore Planned Parenthood Association (SPPA) vice-president Edward Ong expressed disappointment at the survey results, saying that it is a reflection of the "failure of contraception education in Singapore".

Doctors and experts say these worrying findings suggest that Singaporeans are not getting enough sex education, especially regarding contraception.

Dr Ng told ST that there is a need to go back to sex education basics to close the discrepancy between knowledge and practice.

However, on a plus side, condoms remained the most commonly used contraceptive measure. In the latest 2010 survey, 41 per cent said condoms were their contraceptive method of choice. This is up from the 23.5 per cent of 2009.

The survey, which interviewed 1,790 respondents in 2010, also revealed that youths are increasingly liberal in their attitudes regarding sex.

In 1999, only 3.4 per cent of teens between the ages of 12 to 21 said they had had sex. This number went up to 46.1 per cent in the 2010 survey for those of 16 to 20 years of age - the closest corresponding age group.

In 1999, 77 per cent of respondents said they disagreed with premarital sex, even if the couple is in love. In the latest survey, 73 per cent said it is acceptable.

About a third of those between 16 and 20 years of age said they had agreed to sex after a first meeting with a stranger.

Another third indicated that they had engaged in sex with a partner they met online.

Both doctors expressed alarm at the findings, with Mr Ong saying that there is a need to embrace more open discussions about contraception.