Long-acting reversible contraception in adolescents in Sub-Saharan Africa: evidence from demographic and health surveys.

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OBJECTIVE: To explore (1) long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) use and (2) future contraceptive preferences in Sub-Saharan African adolescents as undesired pregnancies in Sub-Saharan African adolescents are associated with significant maternal/neonatal morbidity.

METHODS: Nationally-representative Demographic and Health Surveys (USAID) obtained informed consent and interviewed 45,054 adolescents, including 19,561 (43.4% of total) sexually active adolescents (aged 15-19) from 18 least developed Sub-Saharan African nations regarding contraception (years 2005-2011, response rate 89.8-99.1% for all women interviewed). Frequencies and percentages of contraceptive use, prior pregnancies, and unwanted births were reported. Categorical variables were analyzed through χ

RESULTS: A majority of sexually active adolescents were not using contraception (n = 16,165 non-users; 82.6% of all sexually active adolescents). Many (n = 8465, 43.3% of sexually active adolescents) interviewed already had at least one child, with 31.5% (n = 2646) of those with previous children reporting the pregnancy was not wanted at the time it occurred. Sexually active adolescents using contraception (n = 3384) used LARCs (injectable contraception, implants, or intrauterine devices; 29.8%, n = 1007) barrier contraceptives (31.9%), oral contraceptives (10.9%), and other methods (27.4%). Adolescents using LARCs were more likely to be urban [OR 1.76 (95% CI 1.39-2.22)], to have been visited by a family planning worker in the last 12 months [OR1.62 (95% CI 1.24-2.11)], and to have visited a health facility in the past 12 months [OR1.84 (95% CI 1.53-2.21)]. Injectable contraception was the most preferred (39.9%, n = 3036) future method by sexually-active non-contracepting adolescents who were asked about future methods (n = 7605) compared to other methods. An unfortunate percentage of adolescents surveyed cannot read (35.7%, n = 16,084).

CONCLUSION: A majority of sexually-active adolescents in Sub-Saharan Africa are not using contraception and are desirous of doing so. Offering LARCs during post-abortive or postpartum care with particular focus on rural adolescents may reduce undesired pregnancy and subsequent morbidity/mortality. Educational materials should limit printed information as many teens are unable to read.

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The European journal of contraception & reproductive health care : the official journal of the European Society of Contraception





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