Teenagers who become pregnant do seek contraceptive advice

August 17, 2000

Paper: Consultation patterns and provision of contraception in general practice before teenage pregnancy: case-control study

Editorial: Never underestimate the force of reproduction

Teenagers who become pregnant are not as reluctant or ill informed about contraception as previously assumed. Most teenagers who become pregnant have discussed contraception with a health professional in the year before conception, according to a study in this week's BMJ.

Looking at 240 cases of teenage pregnancy in 14 general practices in the Trent region, the study found that 71% of teenagers had discussed contraception with a health professional, and 50% had been prescribed regular oral contraception. In the 22% of cases resulting in termination, teenagers were more likely to have received emergency rather than regular oral contraception in this year. Overall, compared to others of their age, teenagers who became pregnant were found to consult their GP more often, both about contraception and unrelated matters.

The study shows that teenagers who become pregnant are not as reluctant or ill informed about contraception as previously assumed. The authors emphasise a need for adequate follow-up of teenagers receiving emergency contraception.

In an accompanying editorial, Professor Basil Donovan of the University of Sydney seeks to explain these findings. He suggests that teenagers may not be getting the most out of their consultations due to time pressures, their own embarrassment, or lack of rapport. Use of oral contraception in this age group is often sporadic and therefore ineffective. This warrants consideration of more permanent reversible methods of contraception.

[Paper] R Churchill, Clinical Lecturer, Division of General Practice, University of Nottingham Medical School, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH Email: dick.churchill@nottingham.ac.uk

[Editorial] Basil Donovan, Clinical Professor, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney Hospital, Sydney NSW, Australia Email: donovanb@sesahs.nsw.gov.au


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