90 per cent of women surveyed who used contraception had had sex recently 

Couples who use contraception are more likely to have sex frequently, a new study has suggested.

US researchers found that women in marriages and other unions who used protection were three times more likely to have regular sex than similar women who did not. 

The team at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said that the results are down to the fact that contraception separates sexual pleasure from the responsibilities of pregnancy. 

Researchers conducted the study by analysing data from sexual health questionnaires filled out by over 210,000 sexually active women since 2005. The women were all of childbearing age, were married or in cohabiting relationships, and lived in one of 47 different countries.

The questions covered topics including whether the woman had sex during the previous four weeks and if they were using contraception. 

Of the women who reported using contraception, 90 per cent said they had had sex in the past four weeks, compared with 72 per cent who were not.

The data also showed that women aged between 20 and 29-years-old, those who were more educated, and those who wanted to have children in the next two years were more likely to have had sex in the previous four weeks. 

"We want women to have better, healthier, safer sex lives by separating sex from pregnancy and childbearing. Contraception does that," said study leader Suzanne Bell, MPH, a doctoral student at the Bloomberg School. 

"Knowing how often women have sex - and what role contraception plays in that - can give us a better understanding of how meeting our family planning goals of improving access and meeting demand might impact people's lives beyond decreasing lifetime fertility."

However, Bell stressed that while sex and contraception are linked this does not mean that improved access to contraception leads to more frequent sex. 

She explained that women have many reasons for not using the method above a lack of access, including health concerns about hormone-based contraception and misconceptions about the medication causing other diseases. 

Women also reported not using contraception because they were having infrequent sex. 

The study will be presented at the International Conference on Family Planning in Nusa Dua, Indonesia.

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