One in six female university students has had a pregnancy scare after having unprotected sex, a survey has found.
Many students said they forgot to use contraception
Four in 10 said they had taken the risk after they had been drinking or got "carried away".
Five hundred women aged 17 to 24 were questioned in the survey by NOP for the online contraception information service Evriwoman.
Experts say female students should find a form of contraception which will fit in with their university lifestyle.
Women said other reasons for not using contraception included:-
- just forgetting - 19%
- not having anything to hand - 11%
not thinking about it - 5%
Most students said they usually used the Pill when they did use contraception.
A quarter of those who mainly used condoms admitted they only thought about contraception when they were actually having sex.
Just over half of those who had a pregnancy scare had taken the morning-after pill.
Eighty-three per cent of those questioned have had, or expect to have, up to five partners by the time they graduated from university.
Dr Diana Mansour, head of the contraception and sexual health service within the Newcastle Primary Care Trust, said students were not taking contraception seriously.
"The trouble is that young women often don't think about contraception until it could be too late.
"What with the excitement of leaving home, socialising, meeting new people and the pressure of studying, contraception is just not top of their agenda even though for many this will be the first time they'll be getting into a long-term sexual relationship."
She added: "It's a busy time for young students so they should be thinking about using birth control options that fit with their lifestyle.
"The right choice for them could make a real difference on how effectively they use it."
Dr Mansour added: "Students are taking a chance when it comes to birth control because rather than using a continuous method, then doubling up with a condom for new partners, they're relying on barrier methods, the morning-after pill, or nothing at all and it's this trend that needs to be looked at because it's getting them into all sorts of trouble."
She advised women who wanted more information on the range of contraception methods available to speak to their GP or visit their local family planning clinic.
A spokeswoman for the Family Planning Association said: "Students in further education may be high achievers but that doesn't mean they'll find it easy to talk about sex with a partner.
"Just because we're more open about sex today doesn't mean we're more honest."
She added: "Communicating about sex is a problem for lots of people, and rates of unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections remain high.
"The big lesson students must learn is to value their sexual health and future fertility enough to avoid the unhappy consequences of unprotected sex.
"The best way to do this is to use contraception every time."