Author(s): Blanc AK, Way AA
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Abstract This article offers an overview of sexual behavior and contraceptive knowledge and use among adolescent women across a large number of developing countries. The results demonstrate that almost universally in sub-Saharan Africa and in the majority of countries in other regions, the gap between age at first sexual intercourse and age at first marriage has increased across age cohorts. The predominant pattern is one in which both age at marriage and age at first intercourse have risen, but the increase in age at marriage is greater, resulting in a widening gap. In most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, current contraceptive use is higher among sexually active, unmarried teens than it is among married teens, whereas in Latin America and the Caribbean, current-use levels are higher among married teens. The results also show that adolescents are unlikely to use a contraceptive the first time they have sex and are more likely than older women to experience a contraceptive failure. PIP: This article presents an analysis of Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data from developing countries that sheds light on the reproductive behavior of adolescent women. Topics include sex behavior and marriage; contraceptive knowledge/usage; contraceptive usage at first intercourse; and contraceptive failure, switching, and discontinuation. Tables illustrate 1) the percentage of all adolescents aged 15-19 who have ever had sex and who have ever married in 37 DHS countries; 2) the percentage of those aged 20-24 and of women aged 40-44 who first married and first had sex by age 18 in 36 DHS countries; 3) the percentage of women aged 15-19 and 20-49 who know any contraceptive method by marital and sexual activity status in 37 DHS countries; 4) the percentage of women aged 15-19 and 20-49 currently using contraception by marital status and sexual activity status in 43 DHS countries; 5) the percentage of people who used contraception at first intercourse by country, age, sex, and marital status in 6 countries; and 6) 12-month life-table gross discontinuation rates by country and age at start of use, by type of discontinuation. It is concluded that adolescent sex behavior and contraceptive knowledge/usage vary widely across and within regions, but that overall patterns show that the gap between first intercourse and marriage has increased. Levels of contraceptive knowledge are high, and usage is higher but less successful among unmarried than married adolescents. More research should be directed toward adolescent males.
This article was published in Stud Fam Plann
and referenced in Journal of Womens Health Care