Washington: Not using effective contraception once becoming sexually active multiples up to 6 times the risk for teen pregnancy, a new Spanish research has found.
The study conducted by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the Universidad Complutense in Madrid also found that the use of ineffective contraception (methods other than condoms, intrauterine contraceptive device [IUDs], diaphragms, or hormonal methods) quadrupled the risk.
The research, "Teenage motherhood in Spain", was led by CSIC researcher Margarita Delgado and was based on a survey conducted by the Spanish Sociological Research Center on 9,700 women over the age of fifteen and even covered generations of women born before 1931.
The preliminary results of the study indicate how, in a period of 50 years, the median age of the onset of sexual relations among residents in Spain has dropped from about 25 years old to around 18.
Less than a quarter of Spanish women born before 1951 had sexual intercourse for the first time before turning 20 years old, it was found.
In contrast, for those born between 1976 and 1980 the percentage rises to 73 per cent and up to 86 per cent in the case of those born between 1981 and 1985.
The gradual drop in age of the onset of sexual activity has been accompanied by a progressive decline in the age at which women begin to use contraception.
Hence, while women born between 1951-1955 used contraceptive methods after turning 25 years old (and had sexual relations at 21.5), women 20 years later (1971-1975) began to use contraceptives at 19.6 years old, while becoming sexually active at 18.9.
Thus, there remains a gap between the onset of sexual activity and when contraception is used, although it’s shrinking: 3.8 years difference in the case of women who were between 50 and 54 years old at the time of the survey and 0.7 years for those between 30 and 34.
The decline in age at the onset of sexual activity has been accompanied, logically, with an increase in the number of adolescent women at risk for potential pregnancy.
However, when comparing each generation, there is a clear downward trend in the percentage of pregnancies among women who had sex before age 20.
Thus, 60 per cent of women born between 1941-1945 were teenage mothers, whereas among the last group analysed (1981-1985) the statistic only reached 10.7 per cent.
Delgado said: "We can say that one of the biggest disadvantages for teenage mothers is the necessity to end their academic studies early."