A new report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) finds millions of adolescent girls suffer serious long-term health and social consequences from pregnancy. Globally, the U.N. agency estimates 7.3 million girls under 18-years-old give birth, including two million girls younger than 14.
In developing countries, 20,000 girls under 18 give birth every day, the report says. It estimates some 70,000 adolescents in developing countries die each year from complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Among those who survive, many will develop an obstetric fistula. This is a hole in the birth canal, which leaves the girl leaking urine constantly.
The director of the UNFPA office in Geneva, Alanna Armitage, says adolescent girls are at increased risk of child marriage and sexual coercion. Maternal death among girls under the age of 15 from low- and middle-income countries is twice that of older females,” says Armitage.
“Our report shows that nine out of 10 pregnancies to girls under 18 take place within a marriage. And, as you may know, every day, 39,000 girls are married in violation of their basic human rights. One in nine is married before the age of 15 and this, of course, will continue as long as families, communities and governments tolerate child marriage,” she said.
Read the rest here.
About half of pregnant women incorrectly believe that hormonal contraception is more dangerous than pregnancy, according to new research presented today at the Annual Clinical Meeting of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Studies show that approximately 30% of women with an undesired pregnancy do not use contraception. Data on the number of women who do not use contraceptives due to safety concerns have varied.
Brandy J. Becker, MD, and Sarah J. Betstadt, MD, MPH, at the University of Rochester, in Rochester, NY, sought to evaluate patients’ knowledge of medical risks from hormonal contraception compared with risks from pregnancy. They offered an anonymous survey to women receiving pregnancy counseling at the university’s family planning clinic.
“Almost half of the women in our study were unaware that pregnancy is more dangerous than contraception,” Dr. Becker said. The overall risk of death for young healthy nonsmokers using oral contraceptives (OC) is 240 times lower than the risk of death from pregnancy-related complications, according to the researchers. The risk of developing potentially deadly blood clots in pregnancy is five times greater than the risk of blood clots from OCs. A woman’s highest risk of blood clots is during the immediate postpartum period.
Read the rest from the ACOG here.
“No one threw me a baby shower. No one said congratulations. My pregnancy was not celebrated. My child’s birth was seen as a failure,” Jayme, a strong teenage mother, shared with me during a checkup for her healthy young baby. I sympathized with her as a family doctor and as a young mother myself. What do you do when you don’t get any Mothers’ Day adoration? In spite of decades of work for girls’ and women’s health justice, a surprisingly narrow band of acceptance surrounds mothers. Jayme was too young, too single, and too poor to receive the embrace of her community.
That same day, a friend I studied with during my medical training, gladly gossiped with me about how welcomed she felt in the world of mothers at the park, in the farmers markets, and the prenatal yoga centers. I asked her if she realized her privilege, her skin color, the ring on her finger, the zip code on her driver’s license, and the brand-name maternity wear that opened doors for her during her pregnancy and mothering. She paused. I backtracked, awkwardly offering congratulations. “You and your baby deserve to be welcomed, celebrated, and supported,” I cheered. Without saying it, I thought, and so do Jayme and her baby.
In college, as one of the few student moms in the ivory tower, I was the confidant of pregnant and parenting women. Like Jayme, I had my kid too young. My pregnant belly didn’t fit in the narrow desks provided in our college lectures. I succeeded because I received support, not judgment, from family and friends.
Read the rest from the almost pathologically marvelous (seriously, she’s so great, so if you don’t know her already, look her up!) Rebecca Trotzky-Sirr here.
Now and then — and sometimes more often than that — we get users with earnest, profound and persistent fears of things like semen being on toilets, door handles, banisters, or hands after washing them and becoming pregnant. Facts about sperm, semen and pregnancy in reality don’t seem to help allay these fears.
If this sounds like you or someone you know, know that this usually isn’t an issue where more sex or reproduction education is going to help, because what this more likely is is a mental health issue, namely, a form of anxiety; irrational fears, phobias, about sperm, pregnancy or germs. In order to be helped with a mental health issue like this, your best bet (or that of someone you know like this) is going to be to see a qualified mental health provider. Living like this is obviously scary and deeply uncomfortable: if you want it to change, do what you can to find the right help for yourself.
Want a quick way to sort out what sexual activities pose what kinds of risks of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections? Based on what we know from current, scientifically sound study, and in alignment with what credible, dependable health organizations report, the list and graphics below provide you that information.
You can use this as a tool to help figure out what activities you do or don’t feel ready for, are or are not comfortable with, and what contraception, safer sex practices, or both you’ll want or need to use when to reduce your risks of pregnancy, STIs or both. You can use it if you already engaged in a given activity, but aren’t sure what levels of risk it posed to know if you should consider emergency contraception, and when you might need STI testing.
You can check it out here at Scarleteen.
I am 16 years old and already have a 7 month old baby. My son has a lot of health problems, he was born with a lung disease and has holes in his heart. I recently found out I was pregnant again and I’m not for sure how to go about it. I’ve only told one person and that’s my older sister. I know for sure that I do not want to keep the baby but I don’t have enough money for abortion and if I tell my dad it could turn out very bad. I live in Kentucky, and I am trying to figure out how to go about a judicial bypass and an abortion but I need help with money.
Heather Corinna replies:
I’m so sorry to hear about your son’s health problems, Faith. It’s hard enough being a very young parent without the rights of an adult, let alone doing so when your child has serious health problems. It also seems like you might not have a very supportive family, so from the sounds of things, you’ve had it really rough for a while now. I really want that to change for you. I’m going to offer all I can to help you with what you want help with here.
As it sounds like you already know, in your state you can’t obtain an abortion as a minor without the consent of at least one parent or guardian or without a judicial bypass. That’s not something impossible, it is often doable, but if you do think you can get a legal guardian or parent’s consent safely, then I’d suggest you do try that first. That is certainly the more efficient route, and is often easier in most ways.
I don’t know what you mean when you say that if you told your father, things could turn out very badly.
If you mean you already are, would be or might be in danger of abuse, I’d strongly encourage you to contact social services. In KY, the hotline for child abuse or neglect — the child in this case being you, the child of your parent or parents — is (877) 597-2331. I suggest that because if you’re already living with abuse or under threat of abuse, I want you to at least find out about your other options so you don’t have to live that way if you don’t have to. I don’t want you to have to live in danger, and no matter what happens with this pregnancy, it may be you have other support and living options you don’t know about and which might mean a better way for you and your son to live moving forward, maybe even starting right this very second.
Too, if disclosing this pregnancy to your father, or asking him for permission for an abortion is something that would put your safety or life at risk, then by all means, that is NOT something you want to do. Instead, it will be safer for you to contact other helps first and explore your other options, which I’ll give in detail for you in my answer.
Read the rest at Scarleteen here.
Some stats from this today, in case you or someone you know needs them:
If you are having the kind of sex that presents a possible risk of pregnancy, you are having one of the two kinds of sex (anal intercourse being the other) that presents the biggest STI risks, too. When there is direct genital contact — including for people with the same kinds of genitals, where there isn’t a risk of pregnancy — there are always risks — a definite maybe — of STIs. And those risks are usually not smaller than pregnancy risks for people in the age group we work with most, even though a lot of people think they are.
Experts estimate that almost half of the United States’ over 19 million STI infections each year occur in youth ages 15-24. A recent study found that one in four young women ages 15-19 has an STI in the U.S. One in four: we’ve had that figure for a long time now, it’s nothing new. More broadly, people between the ages of 15 and 24 account for 50 percent of all new STIs.
In 2008, the U.S. teen pregnancy rate was 67.8 pregnancies per 1,000 young women ages 15 to 19: in other words, just under 7 pregnancies per every 100 people aged 15-19, or around 7%. And, more broadly, about 30 percent of Americans who have the ability to become pregnant do before the age of 20.
So: One in every four people aged 15-19 acquires an STI each year. But less than one in every ten in that same age group becomes unintentionally pregnant. To put it another way: 25% of young people in the United States has an STI. Only around 7% in that same age group become pregnant in a year.
You can perhaps then see how you are most often more at risk of STIs than pregnancy if you are a young person engaging in the kind of sex that poses risks of both.
More at risk. Not less. Not the same. More.