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Better sex education in Northern Ireland is vital, says health charity

By Victoria O'Hara

Better education about contraception and sexual health in Northern Ireland is needed, a health charity has said.

The call comes after a survey revealed 45% of women from Northern Ireland said they'd had unprotected sex in the last two years when not planning a pregnancy.

According to the Family Planning Association (FPA) in Northern Ireland, many women lack a basic understanding of emergency contraception and feel embarrassed to ask for it.

The findings of the survey of more than 2,000 women across the UK published to mark the start of Sexual Health Week also revealed that 46% thought asking for emergency contraception can be embarrassing and said there is still a stigma around it. This, according to the FPA, was the highest of any region in the UK.

It also showed that 50% said they would not know where to get emergency contraception.

Only 12% said they thought health professionals provide enough information on the different methods of emergency contraception that are available.

This is the lowest of any region in the UK.

Just 16% of women said they learned about emergency contraception at school or college.

And 55% wrongly believed, or weren't sure, that emergency contraception has to be used within 24 hours of the episode of unprotected sex to be effective. FPA's Northern Ireland Director Dr Audrey Simpson OBE said: "Our research has shown many barriers exist for women – including a lack of knowledge of what emergency contraception is, how it works and where you can get it."

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