Researchers conducted the study to describe contraceptive risk and compensatory behavior, using condoms or EC, in young people in education aged 16–24.

The present study was a cross-sectional study. A total of 1135 students aged 16–24 years participated in the study. The study setting was Educational establishments in and around London, UK.

Seventy-six percent of women and 55% of men reported having experienced sex either without contraception or when a condom split or came off. Most participants who reported such risks had compensated by using EC at least once, but only a minority had paid on each occasion of risk. Of the oral contraceptive users, the majority (83%) had experienced a pill ‘problem,’ and most of them had compensated for such issues by using condoms. Fewer than half of the women experienced pill problems after using condoms on each occasion. Less than a quarter (23%) experienced pill problems but did not compensate using condoms ever reimbursed by using EC.

This study demonstrates high levels of immediate contraceptive risk and low levels of consistent compensatory condom or EC use. Interventions to increase contraceptive use should focus not only on the initiation of contraception use but acknowledge that chances do happen and promote both continuing use and compensatory behavior.