KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 9 — Malaysians aged between 18 and 30 appear to be more sexually active today than in 2016, revealed a recent study by Durex Malaysia.

The study, titled Sexual Health and Intimate Wellness Survey found that a large majority of them had their first sexual experience before the age of 23 without proper knowledge about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy.

According to the findings, 35.4 per cent of respondents admitted they have had sexual intercourse compared to 18.8 per cent in 2016.

That’s about a 90 per cent increase in six years.

Revealing the findings, Reckitt Benckiser marketing director Tiffany Tang said 62 per cent of the participants said they had their first sexual experience at 22 years old or younger.

The figure in 2016 was 42 per cent.

The study also looked at other aspects of sexual health and intimate wellness to determine the mindset of young Malaysians about perceptions versus reality as well as safe sex measures.

Tang said the results showed that 31 per cent of respondents believed the myth that a woman cannot get pregnant during her period, while 20 per cent answered that they were unsure of the correct answer.

“Thirty-one per cent of the participants didn’t know that women could get pregnant the first time she engages in sex,” Tang said.

“Almost 40 per cent believe the myth that STIs are only transmitted through penetrative sex.”

The study also saw that 50 per cent of the respondents believed that men who carry condoms are responsible, whereas women who carry them are perceived as wanting to have a sexual relationship.

The survey, which was conducted online from April until May, involved 1,089 young Malaysians nationwide.

The respondents comprised 48 per cent male and 52 per cent female.

The results were revealed at the launch of the #ComeTogether campaign by the sexual well-being brand, which aims to encourage more open conversations around sex.

Tang said the survey brought to light the levels of understanding in the areas of contraception, STIs, sexual stigma and perceptions.

“It also covered segments on sexual activities such as sexting and provided an understanding of Malaysian youths’ expectations of sex.”

A panel discussion was held in conjunction with the launch of a campaign to discuss the issues surrounding sexual and reproductive health amongst young Malaysians.

(from left) Siti Aishah Hassan Hasri, SPOT Community Project Founder, Tiffany Tang, marketing manager, Arwind Kumar, content creator and social activist, Tengku Aira Tengku Razif, United Nations population fund analyst programme analyst, Malaysia country office, (UNFPA), Chan  Fun Shin, registered counsellor and sex therapist, Jerome Goh, marketing manager, Durex Malaysia, Joan Tong, senior manager, Durex Malaysia and Singapore at Jao Tim, August 9, 2022. — Picture By Devan Manuel
(from left) Siti Aishah Hassan Hasri, SPOT Community Project Founder, Tiffany Tang, marketing manager, Arwind Kumar, content creator and social activist, Tengku Aira Tengku Razif, United Nations population fund analyst programme analyst, Malaysia country office, (UNFPA), Chan Fun Shin, registered counsellor and sex therapist, Jerome Goh, marketing manager, Durex Malaysia, Joan Tong, senior manager, Durex Malaysia and Singapore at Jao Tim, August 9, 2022. — Picture By Devan Manuel

The panel included Durex Malaysia marketing manager Jerome Goh, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) programme analyst (Malaysia) Tengku Aira Tengku Razif, Spot community project founder Siti Aishah Hassan Hasri, registered counsellor and sex therapist Chan Fun Shin as well as social activist Arwind Kumar.

Highlighting the issues of misconceptions over sex education, Siti Aishah said it takes a holistic effort to break the taboos surrounding sex education.

“We believe that non-governmental organisations (NGO), civil society organisations, government bodies and brands alike need to work together in sustaining movements like these to highlight the importance of sexual and reproductive health education.”

Speaking about the sensitivities of sex education amongst the religious community, Tengku Aira said one of the best ways to encourage conversations about the topic is by engaging the religious heads and leaders as a bridge to the community.

“Issues such as baby dumping and other sensitive topics can be addressed through the religious leaders.”

She said sexual health education is a shared effort and requires cooperation from government agencies, NGOs, and corporates to individuals.

“We want our youths to have a positive view of their bodies and sexuality, and to break the taboo factor when it comes to sexual health.”

Durex products seen at Jao Tim, August 9, 2022. — Picture By Devan Manuel
Durex products seen at Jao Tim, August 9, 2022. — Picture By Devan Manuel