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The number of young people in western countries having unprotected sex has risen sharply over the last two years, according to a new survey conducted to mark World Contraception Day.

The percentage of teenagers in the United States who failed to use contraception with a new partner rose to 53 per cent, from 38 per cent in 2009. France saw the number of teenagers not using contraception with a new partner more than double, going from 19 per cent two years ago to 40 per cent today.

The survey of more than 5,000 young people in 26 countries, conducted by the Parenthood Foundation, found that the most common reason teens had for not using contraception was not having it in the first place, with one-third of teens reporting not having any form of contraception available at the time of intercourse.

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In Britain, the number jumped from 36 per cent to 43 per cent. The number of young people who failed to use contraception with first-time partners was above 50 per cent in Thailand, Norway, Estonia, China and South Korea.

"What the results show is that too many young people either lack good knowledge about sexual health, do not feel empowered enough to ask for contraception or have not learned the skills to negotiate contraceptive use with their partners to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies or STIs (sexually transmitted infections)," Jennifer Woodside of the International Planned Parenthood Federation said.

The most recent Statistics Canada report to look at sex and condom use among young people, from 2005, found that less than 4 in 10 people age 15 to 24 who had been with multiple partners in the year prior had not used a condom the last time they had sex.

What can be done to get more young people to use contraception during sex?

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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