Jennifer Frost and colleagues at the Guttmacher Institute in New York found the lower the level of contraceptive knowledge among young women, the greater the likelihood they expected to have unprotected sex in the next three months.
The authors used data collected through telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,800 unmarried women and men ages 18-29, part of the 2009 National Survey of Reproductive and Contraceptive Knowledge.
Sixty-nine percent of young women and 45 percent of young men were highly committed to avoiding pregnancy, but 25 percent said they thought using condoms every time one has sex was a hassle. Sixty percent underestimated the effectiveness of oral contraceptives and 40 percent held the view that using birth control does not matter.
The more strongly men and women agreed that regular condom use was "too much of a hassle," the more likely they were to expect to have unprotected sex, Frost said.
The findings are scheduled to be published in the June issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.