Maria Ekstrand


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    Sexual risk taking for self and partner as perceived by young men in Sweden

    Maria Ekstrand, T. Tydén, M. Larsson (Sweden)

    Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

    Purpose. We conducted a qualitative interview study guided by the main concepts of the Health Belief Model (HBM) in order to explore young men’s perceptions of (i) risk for themselves and their partners in connection with unprotected intercourse and (ii) the main barriers to practicing safe sex.

    Methods.In-depth interviews with 22 Swedish males aged 16-20 were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.

    Results.Risks connected to unprotected sex with a new partner (such as sexually transmitted infections and/or unintended pregnancy), were generally perceived as low. The young men calculated risks and considered preventative strategies based on perceived susceptibility, severity and whether or not risks were considered as immediate or distant. For example, HIV/Aids was by most perceived as highly severe, but few worried about personally getting infected. Chlamydia-infection was associated with high susceptibility, but most viewed Chlamydia as an infection which would not do much harm. The young men worried more about the personal consequences regarding sexual risk taking; eventual consequences for a temporary partner were of minor concern. No one wanted to become a teenage father, but most were confident that any resulting pregnancy would not be carried to term; this led to decreased motivation for sharing pregnancy-preventing practices with their partner.

    The main barriers to condom use were interference with spontaneity, pleasure reduction, fear of loosing erection, and embarrassment or distrust. Other obstacles were the girl’s use of hormonal contraception, and difficulties in communicating about safe sex.

    Conclusion.Male disengagement and uneven gender distribution in issues regarding sexual and reproductive health are matters of concern. Helping young men gain confidence in their abilities to share contraceptive responsibility with their partners, and challenging the contemporary picture of western masculinity, may constitute important public health strategies for protecting young people’s sexual and reproductive health.

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    Swedish teenager’s  perception of teenage pregnancies, abortion, sexual behaviour and contraceptive habits

    a focus group study among 17-year-old female high school students


    Maria Ekstrand, RN*, Margareta Larsson, RNM**, Louise von Essen, PhD***,

     Tanja Tydén, PhD****


    ** Department of Women´s and Children´s Health, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

    *** Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

    ****Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences and Department of Women´s and Children´s Health, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden


    Background: Sweden has the highest abortion numbers among the Nordic countries. Since 1995 the abortion rate among teenagers has increased with nearly 50 %. We therefore undertook a study to gain knowledge about female teenagers´ perception of teenage pregnancies, abortion, sexual behavior and contraceptive habits.


    Methods: Six focus group interviews with 17-year-old girls in Sweden were conducted. The interviews were tape recorded, transcribed and analyzed via manifest content analysis.


    Results: Negative attitudes towards teenage pregnancies and supportive attitudes towards abortion were expressed. Risk taking behavior such as negligence in contraceptive use and intercourse under the influence of alcohol were suggested as main reasons behind the increasing abortion numbers among Swedish teenagers. The contemporary, sexualized media picture was believed to influence adolescents in their sexual behavior. Liberal attitudes towards casual sex were expressed. Girls were perceived as more obliged than boys in taking responsibility for contraceptive compliance and avoidance of pregnancy. The apprehension that hormonal contraceptives cause negative side effects was widely spread and the participants were found to have limited knowledge about e.g. abortion and fetus development. The majority were unsatisfied with the quality of sexual education provided by the schools.


    Conclusion: Possible reasons for increased abortion numbers among teenagers in Sweden could be liberal attitudes towards casual sex in combination with negligence in contraceptive use, increased use of alcohol followed by sexual risk taking, fear of hormonal contraceptives and a deterioration of sexual education in the schools.


    Keywords: Attitudes, teenage pregnancies, abortion, sexual risk taking, contraceptives