As we prepare to mark World Contraception Day on 26 September 2015, we’re urging action to ensure young people know their contraceptive options.
Unless we can break down the taboos surrounding sex we are leaving young people vulnerable to unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
An estimated 33 million unintended pregnancies each year result from a lack of awareness and contraceptive failure or incorrect use, putting young people at risk of infection, disability and even death. But ensuring young people have the information they need about sex is an ongoing battle, particularly in conservative societies where unmarried teenagers are often excluded from receiving information and sexual health services.
A spokesperson from Marie Stopes International said:
“The consequences of not knowing your contraceptive options can be disastrous for adolescent girls, and in the absence of emergency obstetric care, fatal.
“Good sex education tends to delay first sexual experience and reduces partner numbers and yet we continue to shy away from it. Every young person deserves the confidence and knowledge to enjoy safe, healthy relationships when, and only when, they’re ready to. At the moment, we’re leaving too many of them vulnerable to playground rumours and peer pressure.”
Unintended pregnancy is a serious and growing issue. Of the 208 million pregnancies that occur worldwide each year, more than 41% are unplanned, and of these, nearly half end in abortion.
Pregnancy-related deaths are the leading cause of mortality for young women, whose bodies are often not physically ready for childbirth, with up to 16 million girls aged 15 to 19 giving birth every year in low and middle income countries.
Sexually transmitted infections also disproportionately affect young people, with 15 to 24-year-olds around the world making up a quarter of the sexually active population but two thirds of all newly acquired STIs.
Our spokesperson said: “Young women’s lives and hopes for the future can be shattered because they didn’t know about contraception or where to get it. Yet it is one of the simplest and most affordable ways to transform lives, meaning girls are free to finish their education, focus on their dreams and aspirations and improve opportunities for future generations.”
For more information visit the World Contraception Day website.