A global poll by condom maker Durex also shows 55% of Irish 18-year-olds say they will leave secondary school without any formal sex education, while a further 15% say they cannot remember receiving theirs.
The Irish component of the survey also finds that just one-in-five respondents said their major source of sex education was from school, with 41% claiming most of their knowledge was garnered from friends, with 35% claiming they found out about sex from books.
Magazines and television shows were listed as other sources of information, but overall just 11% said they had felt well-prepared for their first sexual experience.
Just 3% of Irish people received sex education at age 11 or younger, compared to 12% in Germany. 15% of Irish respondents said they were 12 when they received sex education, but 30% said they didn’t receive any sex education and 15% couldn’t remember at what point they had.
By contrast, 81% said they felt school-based sex education should be one of the top three sources of information.
The full results of the survey will be published today to mark the start of National Condom Week, which involves groups such as the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) in promoting safe sex.
Despite the lack of preparedness, the survey found that 35% of Irish respondents said they enjoyed their first experience of sex — a lower percentage than respondents from India, France, and Brazil but higher than those in China, Croatia, and other surveyed countries.
The survey also indicates that using contraception during formative sexual relationships means a reduced risk of an unplanned pregnancy in the longer-term. It found that those who used a condom when first having sex were three times more likely to have never experienced an unplanned pregnancy.
Denise McCarthy, USI welfare officer, said: “It is more important now than even before to promote safer sex practices in our young people. Most Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are symptomless so if students are sexually active, we want to encourage them to use condoms and make sure they have regular STI checks.”
Durex Ireland brand manager, Hazel Roche, said: “It is vital that we educate our nation because a condom can quite literally be a lifesaver — if used properly condoms can protect against unplanned pregnancy and reduce the risk of catching many STIs.”