Unplanned pregnancies in Australia are connected with various forms of disadvantage, as well as with ill-informed women and men.
A recent nationwide study by Monash University showed that most unwanted or unexpected pregnancies are linked to sexual coercion, social disadvantages, rural areas and men born overseas.
“[Australians] have higher rates of unintended pregnancy than other countries of equivalent income status,” said study co-author Jane Fisher, the Jean Hailes Professor of Women’s Health at Monash.
The researchers organised a nationwide survey about how in control Australian women and men feel they are as regards their own sex lives and potential pregnancies. Fisher said their study was particularly innovative in including men, as there is little research into men’s experiences of unplanned pregnancy.
The team was surprised to find that the rates of unintended pregnancies appeared to be higher among the young populace than among older people.
“That was the first perplexing finding,” Fisher remarked. “We expected with greater access to contraception, and with improving education about avoiding pregnancy in school-based programs, fewer pregnancies among young people would be unintended.”
The study also found that unplanned pregnancy rates double in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas as compared with more advantaged ones, and in rural areas as compared with urban ones. The same was the case when the man in the situation had been born overseas.
The overall results indicated that the rate of unplanned pregnancies consistently increased when the people involved didn’t have proper information about reproduction and contraception that would be readily understandable to them.
“Access to high-quality health information, and the kinds of education you need to avoid a pregnancy when you don't want one, does not seem to be evenly distributed across the country,” Fisher said. She urged health professionals to use any opportunity to ask and educate people about their sexual and reproductive health, even when they present to a GP with an unrelated issue.
“These opportunities to provide education, information and access to contraception are incredibly important,” she said.Do you have an idea for a story?
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