Washington: Women with anorexia nervosa are much more likely to have both unplanned pregnancies and induced abortions than women who don`t have the serious eating disorder, according to a new study.
The study has been conducted by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Norwegian researchers.
Lead author Cynthia M. Bulik said that these results may be driven by a mistaken belief among women with anorexia that they can`t get pregnant because they are either not having menstrual periods at all or are having irregular periods.
"Anorexia is not a good contraceptive. Just because you`re not menstruating, or because you`re menstruating irregularly, doesn`t mean you`re not at risk for becoming pregnant," said Bulik.
"Physicians and other health care providers need to be aware of this as well. Doctors who treat women and adolescent girls, in particular, "need to make sure that they have the conversation about sexuality and contraception as clearly with patients with anorexia as they do with all other girls and women," she added.
Bulik and study co-authors analyzed data collected from 62,060 and there were 62 women in this sample who reported having anorexia nervosa.
The differences between women with anorexia and women with no eating disorder were striking. The average age of the mothers at delivery was 26.2 years in women with anorexia, compared with 29.9 years in the referent group of women without eating disorders.
Fifty percent of women with anorexia reported unplanned pregnancies, compared with 18.9 percent, while 24.2 percent of women with anorexia reported having induced abortions in the past, compared to 14.6 percent.
The study is published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.