Relational and Reproductive Trajectories Leading to Adolescent Pregnancy in Portugal: a National and Regional Characterization

Raquel Pires, Joana Pereira, Anabela Araújo Pedrosa, Teresa Bombas, Duarte Vilar, Lisa Vicente, Maria Cristina Canavarro

Abstract


Introduction: The current study aimed to describe the relational and reproductive trajectories leading to adolescent pregnancy in Portugal, and to explore whether there were differences in this process according to adolescents’ place of residence.
Material and Methods: Data were collected between 2008 and 2013 in 42 public health services using a self-report questionnaire developed by the researchers. The sample consisted of a nationally representative group of pregnant adolescents (n = 459).
Results: Regardless of having had one (59.91%) or multiple sexual partners (40.09%), the majority of adolescents became pregnant in a romantic relationship, using contraception at the time of the conception and knowing the contraceptive failure which led to pregnancy (39.22%). In some regions other trajectories were highly prevalent, reflecting options such as planning the pregnancy (Alentejo Region/ Azores Islands), not using contraception (Centro Region/Madeira Islands) or using it incorrectly, without identifying the contraceptive failure (Madeira Islands). On average, romantic relationships were longer than 19 months and adolescents’ partners were older than themselves (> 4 years) and no longer in school (75.16%); these results were particularly significant when the pregnancy was planned.
Discussion: The knowledge gained in this study shows that prevention efforts must be targeted according to the adolescents’ needs in each region and should include high-risk male groups.
Conclusion: Our results may enable more efficient health policies to prevent adolescent pregnancy in different country regions and support educators and health care providers on sexual education and family planning efforts.
Keywords: Adolescent; Contraception; Sex Education; Pregnancy in Adolescence; Portugal.

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