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The underrated benefits of oral contraception: consequences of pregnancy and induced abortion in teenagers.

Authors
  • Dreyfus, R
Type
Published Article
Journal
International journal of fertility
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1992
Volume
37 Suppl 4
Pages
204–210
Identifiers
PMID: 1362187
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Adolescent pregnancy rates are higher among US teenagers than among Swedish teenagers, even though there is a higher proportion of teenage virgins in the US. A leading reason for this discrepancy is that contraceptive use among sexually active US teenagers, especially those who have recently become sexually active, is quite low. Even teenagers using contraceptives experience unwanted pregnancy due to incorrect or inconsistent use of a method, especially barrier methods. Thus, access to abortion services and postcoital contraception are needed. The reasons teenagers often delay abortion are denial of pregnancy, irregular menses and inexperience about signs of pregnancy, fear of telling parents, and not knowing where to seek help. In most countries, adolescents comprise a considerable percentage of abortion patients. They are also at high risk of suffering some abortion complications, one reason being they tend to undergo abortion at later gestational ages than older women. For example, 2nd trimester abortions pose a risk 3-10 times greater than 1st trimester abortions. Teenagers under 17 years old and undergoing suction curettage are at greater risk of cervical injury than older women. On the other hand, teenagers do not face higher risk of other abortion complications than do older women. Adolescents undergoing abortions in developing countries face greater risk of complications, especially mortality, due to certain cultural or sanitary conditions. An unwanted pregnancy places teenagers at considerable risk, e.g., delivering a low birth weight child at high risk of mortality. These findings indicate the need for sexually active teenagers to have accurate information on reproduction and contraception and access to family planning services at an early age. Oral contraceptives (OCs) are the most effective contraceptive for adolescents and provide other benefits as well. Physicians need to promote OC use and communicate OCs' noncontraceptive benefits to teenagers because they often are unable to perceive them. Physicians also need to stress that OCs do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS.

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