By Daniel Martin
The NHS is telling school pupils they have a ‘right’ to an enjoyable sex life and that it is good for their health.
A Health Service leaflet says experts concentrate too much on the need for safe sex and loving relationships, and not enough on the pleasure it can bring.
But family campaigners last night condemned the guidance, saying it encouraged underage sex and could increase rates of sexually-transmitted diseases.
Under the heading ‘an orgasm a day keeps the doctor away’, the leaflet says: ‘Health promotion experts advocate five portions of fruit and veg a day and 30 minutes physical activity three times a week. What about sex or masturbation twice a week?’
The advice, which also claims regular sex is good for cardiovascular health, has been circulated to parents, teachers and youth workers.
It came to light just a week after it emerged that teenagers who took part in a £6million Government initiative to reduce teenage pregnancies were more than twice as likely to fall pregnant as other girls.
The scheme tried to persuade girls not to get pregnant by handing out condoms and teaching them about sex.
Its author, Steve Slack, director of the Centre for HIV and Sexual Health at NHS Sheffield, defended it by saying the advice could encourage young people to delay losing their virginity until they are sure they will enjoy the experience.
He added that as long as teenagers are fully informed about sex and making decisions free of peer pressure as part of a caring relationship, they have as much right as an adult to a good sex life.
But Anthony Seldon, master of Wellington College, Berkshire, who introduced classes in emotional well-being at the public school, described the approach as ‘deplorable’.
Dr Trevor Stammers, of the pressure group Family and Youth Concern, said the leaflet would encourage ‘risky’ behaviour and an increase in sexually transmitted diseases.
‘It is unbelievable that this is being sent to schools’, he said.
He added that inciting underage sex was ‘nothing less than encouraging child abuse’.
‘If the NHS wants to promote a healthy heart, as it says it does in this leaflet, it should put the money into reducing smoking and alcohol,’ he said. ‘Underage sex is as dangerous as underage drink and usually leads to sexual ill-health.’
About 40,000 teenagers become pregnant every year in the UK – the highest level in western Europe. More than half end in abortion.