Monday 18 December 2017

Cash fears of pregnant women reveal the terrible price of recession

The number of crisis pregnancies has soared during the recession. Photo: Thinkstock
The number of crisis pregnancies has soared during the recession. Photo: Thinkstock
Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

ALMOST one in 10 women have described their pregnancy as a crisis because of the recession, it has emerged.

The proportion of women reporting a pregnancy as a crisis for financial reasons rose from 2pc in 2003 to 9pc in 2010 as unemployment soared, the Crisis Pregnancy Agency has revealed.

Dr Stephanie O'Keeffe, agency director, warned that while improved sex education had reduced teenage pregnancies, unwanted or unplanned pregnancy remained an issue for women living in Ireland.

Figures revealed 52pc of under-25s felt their pregnancy was a crisis in 2003, compared to 66pc in 2010.

"The primary reason why a woman defines a pregnancy as a crisis is because the pregnancy is not planned," she said.

"More young women in the 2010 survey reported that they viewed their pregnancy as a crisis because they were 'too young', even though the majority of these pregnancies were occurring to women in their mid-twenties.

"While women are less likely nowadays to define a pregnancy as a crisis because they are not married, the proportion of women reporting that the pregnancy was a crisis for financial reasons has increased from 2pc in 2003 to 9pc in 2010, which is reflective of the current economic climate."

New research by the HSE programme and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) showed improvements in sex education and contraceptive use among young people.

More than 3,000 adults were questioned in 2010 on a range of topics including contraception, education, crisis pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and the data compared to a 2003 study.

It revealed the average age of first sex remained 17 years for men but had risen from 17 to 18 years for women. Some 15pc of under-25s had not had sex.

The under-25s were more likely to have received sex education, 86pc compared to 57pc of 36 to 45-year-olds, and results showed the quality of sex education had also improved.

Nine out of 10 under-25s had used contraception the first time they had sex, compared to 80pc of 26-35s, and adults who received sex education at home or in school were one-and-a-half times more likely to use contraception on that occasion.

There had also been an increase from 4pc to 12pc in young people using more reliable methods of contraception such as the implant, injection, the contraceptive ring and the contraceptive patch.

Elsewhere, 36pc of adults reported that they had been tested for HIV in their lifetime, with 20pc of men and 32pc of women screened for an STI other than HIV. Some 14pc of those screened reporting a positive diagnosis.

Teenage births and the number of girls under the age of 20 travelling to the UK for abortion services had both fallen in the last decade.

The HSE's Dr Kevin Kelleher said while increases in STI diagnosis could be partly attributed to a rise in the levels of screening, the data demonstrated people should not be complacent.

"It is critical that sexually active adults take responsibility for their sexual health, use condoms to reduce STI transmission and attend for regular STI screening," he said.

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