Protected or unprotected sex: The conceptions and attitudes of the youth in Bolgatanga Municipality, Ghana

Jolien van der Geugten*, Berno van Meijel, Marion H.G. den Uyl, Nanne K. de Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The youth in Bolgatanga municipality in Ghana have relatively less knowledge of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) compared to the youth in other parts of Ghana. More fundamental knowledge is needed of the factors that influence young people to have protected and unprotected sex in specific social and cultural contexts, in order to protect them from adverse consequences, such as sexually transmitted diseases (STIs), HIV/AIDS and unintended pregnancies. This study therefore analyzed the conceptions and attitudes of the youth toward protected and unprotected sex, and particularly condom use, in Bolgatanga municipality. Semi-structured and focus group interviews were held with 71 young males and females and 17 adults. The results indicated that many of them lack a comprehensive knowledge of STIs, contraceptives and pregnancy, while a group of them had a negative attitude towards contraceptives. Not all parents, schools and organisations provide young people with a comprehensive education about SRH, and some even discourage such education because they believe it would encourage young people to have sex before marriage. In addition, young people also inform each other about SRH issues, sharing stories and personal experiences with their peers. The information they exchange is not always correct, however; sometimes it merely reflects their own personal preferences. The unequal power in the sexual relationships of young people—related to the traditional value system that gives men, but not women, “sexual freedom, both in and outside marriage”—is another determining factor for unprotected sex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1040-1061
Number of pages22
JournalSexuality and Culture
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Condom use
  • Contraceptives
  • Ghana
  • Sexual transmitted infections
  • Youth


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