More than one in four 18-34 year olds (27%) admit to having unprotected sex due to being too drunk to remember contraception

Adults under 35 years old may be at increased risk of unplanned pregnancies and STIs over Christmas

Adults aged under 35 may be putting themselves at increased risk of unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) over the next few weeks of festivities, according to new independent research conducted by YouGov Plc and launched today by leading sexual health charity Marie Stopes International.

Nearly half (48%) of respondents aged 18-34 stated that they drink more alcohol over the festive period compared to other times of the year, and more than a quarter (27%) admitted that they have had unprotected sex due to being too drunk to remember to use contraception.

The results have lead Marie Stopes International to launch the ‘Wrap it Up’ campaign, urging men and women to carry condoms and practice safe sex to stem the rise in unplanned pregnancies which takes place every year over the festive party season. Marie Stopes International’s UK centres are also offering an emergency contraceptive pill (which can be taken up to 3 days after unprotected sex) at the reduced price of £10 until January 31st 2010 or while stocks last, available to buy in advance of festive parties or following unprotected sex.

The research also revealed that of the 18-34 year olds questioned: 

  • just under one in five (19%) have had sex with someone they just met due to the influence of alcohol at a party over the festive season
  • nearly half (45%) admitted to having sex under the influence of alcohol that they wouldn’t have had if sober
  • more than two in five (41%) have had sex that they regretted the morning after it happened
  • nearly three quarters (73%) of male respondents and three in five (64%) female respondents stated that they have drunk to the point where they would describe themselves as ‘out of it’.

“The combination of alcohol and the festive party spirit may reduce inhibitions, and lead men and women to make decisions about their sexual behaviour that they may not have made if sober,” said Lindsay Davey, Sexual Health Nurse at Marie Stopes International. “This type of sexual behaviour can be dangerous. It only takes one act of unprotected sex to catch an STI or become pregnant, and in January and February last year Marie Stopes International’s UK centres saw greater numbers of women seeking abortion services than at any other time of the year.” Official statistics show that the first quarter of every year always produces the highest numbers of women having abortions1.

“Marie Stopes International is encouraging all revellers this year is to ‘wrap it up’ for Christmas. If going to a party, take condoms with you, and if you are going to have sex, please play safely. Condoms are the only method which protect against both unplanned pregnancy and STIs,” advises Lindsay.

Despite best intentions to prepare for safe sex over the festive period, under the influence of alcohol unprotected sex may occur, and festive party hangovers or illnesses causing vomiting can affect the efficacy of some regular contraceptive methods, such as the contraceptive pill.

“If you have had unprotected sex over the festive period, a test for sexually transmitted infections is advisable, even if you don’t have symptoms,” said Lindsay. If you are a woman and don’t want to be pregnant, visit your local pharmacy, doctor’s surgery or sexual health clinic for emergency contraception as soon after the unprotected sex as possible (within 72 hours to use the over-the-counter emergency contraceptive pill. Within five days after unprotected sex a new emergency contraceptive pill is available on prescription only or an intra-uterine device can be fitted as emergency contraception).

“However, please be aware that your local doctor’s surgery and pharmacy may be closed over the Christmas period. You may visit your local Marie Stopes International centre to purchase emergency contraception in advance of festive parties, or should you need sexual health advice or services following unprotected sex, Marie Stopes International provides a 24/7 sexual and reproductive healthcare information and appointments booking line,” Lindsay concludes. Call 0845 300 8090 or visit

Categories: United Kingdom; Emergency contraception; Family planning; Sexually transmitted infections


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