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Ads target rise in abortions

Changing fertility patterns have created strong demand in reproductive health information for women over 30. By Linda Belardi.

Increasing abortion rates among women aged over 30 in Adelaide’s southern suburbs has triggered a community awareness campaign to better support women to manage unwanted pregnancies.

Project leader, Wendy Abigail from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Flinders University, said older women often lacked appropriate information on sexual and reproductive health.

“All women of reproductive age require health promotion services but often family planning services primarily target women under 30.”

But changing fertility patterns demanded a rethink on the target of government policy, she said.

Education and career choices for women meant females were often making decisions about having a baby much later in life. The mean age for women giving birth in South Australia is 30.

“There is also a rise in the proportion of women over 30 giving birth for the first time and there’s now more women in the 30-34 year [bracket] giving birth than there are in the 25-29 bracket,” said Abigail.

In a trend analysis conducted in the southern area of Adelaide between 1996 and 2006, Abigail found a significant increase in women over 30 having terminations.

The Southern Partnership in Sexual and Reproductive Health will provide information through health promotional videos suitable for all reproductive-age women, including those aged over 30, about fertility awareness and management.

The short 30-second TV advertisements to be shown in medical centres and health clinics around Australia aim to bust common fertility myths and to educate women about effective contraceptive methods. The health promotional videos depicting common scenarios facing women will also be available online.

“There is an assumption that women are well-informed about effective contraception, the rate of failure and how to access emergency contraception, but quite often women have not received any updated information since leaving school,” she said.

As part of the partnership, a working group of university researchers and staff from Flinders Medical Centre, Noarlunga Health Services, Southern Women’s Health and Shine SA has been formed to help improve sexual and reproductive health services in the region.

Abigail, who recently discussed the campaign at the RCNA conference in Hobart, said the project had already attracted broad and wide interest from women’s health and family planning services and government departments.

There is a huge potential for the campaign to be extended beyond the southern area into rural and regional towns and for use as teaching materials in nursing and midwifery training, said Abigail.

She said a combined public health and primary healthcare approach was needed to support fertility awareness within this age group. “There has been a significant change in the fertility patterns over the years and women are making decisions much later about whether to have a baby.”

The campaign titled, “Contraception - is it working for you?” will start from early next year.

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