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sexual attitudes & lifestyles: findings from NATSAL

With recent calls to reduce the age of consent, ongoing concern over teenage pregnancies and fears about rates of STIs, debate over sexual and reproductive health policy is often heavy on moral values and light on facts. Researchers have completed the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL), a decade after the last one, which assesses whether people are practising safe sex, which age group actually has the most unplanned pregnancies and how our attitudes and satisfaction impact on our physical and mental health.

The research is being published across six papers in The Lancet.

  • Are the numbers of sexual partners going up? How does this relate to the practice of safe sex?
  • Are unplanned pregnancies highest in teenagers? What impact does sex education in schools have?
  • Is the age of first sexual experience changing? Is there any impact on our future physical and mental health as a result?
  • How common is non-volitional sex? Is there a link with one night stands and unknown partners?



Prof Dame Anne Johnson, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, University College London

Prof Kaye Wellings, Professor of Sexual & Reproductive Health Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Dr Cath Mercer, Senior Lecturer in Infection & Population Health, Institute of Epidemiology & Health, University College London

Wendy Macdowall, Lecturer in Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Richard Horton, Editor, The Lancet


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