Silja Matthiesen

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    When contraception fails: Adolescent contraception practices and teenage pregnancy

    Silja Matthiesen (Germany)

    Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany

    When young people become pregnant it is usually due to a failed attempt at contraception.  The primary question examined here is why these attempts fail.  The author conducted a quantitative analysis of a questionnaire distributed to underage pregnant females (n=2278) and a qualitative analysis of interviews with underage females who terminated their pregnancies (n=62).  The quantitative data show that approximately two-thirds of the unwanted pregnancies were the result of improperly using birth control pills and condoms.  Three particularly vulnerable groups were identified:  social disadvantaged teenagers; those involved in relationships in which an egalitarian relationship with the male partner is not present; and those who experience an emotional distance to their partners.  On the basis of the interviews information could be gained concerning the problems encountered in using contraceptives in the context of the sexual biography of the participants.  Results show that using contraceptives is a learning process on the part of both partners.  The failures in contraception use are not primarily due to a lack of information about sexuality, but rather to a lack of competency in managing the relationship dynamics as well as to a lack of knowledge about the proper use of contraceptives.