Exploring and understanding Natsal statistics

Before you explore the Natsal-3 findings, here’s some key points to consider.

How is Natsal used by others?

Natsal provides evidence of the context, influences and consequences of sex.

Its data are therefore widely used to: deliver and evaluate sexual and reproductive health interventions; inform clinical practice; provide population-level evidence on sexual health service use; and support the work of key professional bodies and charities in the field, including Brook, the Sex Education Forum, and the Terrence Higgins Trust.

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Natsal makes a difference in the real world.

Natsal has shown that national strategies to improve access to sexual health services have been associated with significant increases in sexual health clinic attendance and HIV testing, especially between 2000 and 2010, and among those at highest risk and so those people who have the greatest need for these services.

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Natsal and young people

The relationships and sex education (RSE) needs of young people continue to be unmet with most people reporting in Natsal that they didn’t know enough about sex before they first had sex. This has resulted in a call for more, and also targeted, resources to enable educators to address a broader range of topics when delivering RSE.

For more information, check out these free resources from Brook.


Natsal data actually inform and shape clinical services.

In terms of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Natsal-3 showed that HPV - the Human Papilloma Virus – is the most common STI in Britain, with certain high-risk HPV types that are associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer found in almost one in six women aged 16 to 44 years. This information underpinned the need for, and development of, a national HPV vaccination programme among girls and boys.

In terms of Chlamydia, Natsal-3 has shown how young adults who tested for this STI were more likely to report factors associated with getting Chlamydia. Yet substantial proportions of those reporting key risk factors noted that they hadn’t recently tested – information that is important for evaluating the National Chlamydia Screening Programme.


Natsal and underserved communities.

In terms of particular population groups, Natsal has found that some sexual minorities, such as men who have sex with men, disproportionately report harmful health behaviours and poor health outcomes, with health inequalities often seen in combination.

This underpins the drive for a more holistic approach to improve this group’s overall health and well-being as now reflected in national guidelines.

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Using the comparing Natsal statistics tool

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)


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