Teenage pregnancy affects nearly six percent of Filipino girls

Published December 14, 2021, 9:30 AM

by Manila Bulletin

In June, Executive Order 141 declares prevention of teen pregnancies a ‘national priority’

NEW LIFE A mother holding the hand of her newborn for the first time

A survey showed that only 13 percent of 500 young women in the Philippines have knowledge of emergency contraceptive (EC) pills or the Yuzpe method, which has an 88 percent efficacy rate if taken within 72 hours after conception.

DKT Philippines Foundation, a leader for health market innovations, shared this information from their commissioned study.

“These pills fill a need when sex is infrequent or unexpected, which is often the case for people just entering their sexually active years,” says foundation chairman Hyam Bolande. “EC pills can provide the last line of safe defense against unwanted pregnancy when the male partner doesn’t use a condom.”

Though teenage pregnancy has been a long-time problem in the Philippines, the government has recently raised the alarm for better methods to lower the case as the numbers continue to rise even with efforts.

In June, President Duterte declared the prevention of teen pregnancies a “national priority” in Executive Order 141, which called for measures to address the problem, including strengthening sexual education so that adolescents could make more informed decisions.

Births to teen mothers soared to the equivalent of 495 per day in 2019. Teenage pregnancy affects nearly six percent of Filipino girls, which is the second-highest rate in Southeast Asia, based on Save the Children’s 2019 Global Childhood Report.

Hyam Bolande, chairman of DKT Philippines Foundation

DKT Philippines Foundation said the lack of awareness on the emergency contraceptive pills (also referred to as the “morning-after pills” method held back in its fight against the rising adolescent pregnancy rates.

The study has also revealed that there is only one of four unmarried, sexually active women aged 18 to 29, who is aware that it is possible to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse with contraceptive pills.

More than two in three said they had unprotected sex before. The same proportion, 68 percent, reported having experienced “pregnancy scares” before, with the number of such scares averaging 2.7. In addition, 94 percent of this group of women also reported suffering negative emotional states after unprotected sex, such as fear of pregnancy, anxiety, guilt, and sadness.

The study has also revealed that there is only one of four unmarried, sexually active women aged 18 to 29, who is aware that it is possible to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse with contraceptive pills.

In a follow-up online survey conducted by the foundation, nearly one-third or 32 percent of Filipino doctors and midwives active in family planning said they were not aware of the Yuzpe method.

In that same informal survey in October, however, 85 percent of the healthcare providers reported they had patient inquiries about emergency contraception.

First introduced in the UK in 1984, emergency contraceptive pills have emerged as one of the world’s principal family-planning methods and are now approved for use in 149 countries.

DON’T PANIC An emergency contraceptive pill has an 88 percent efficacy rate if taken within 72 hours after conception

The Yuzpe method can prevent pregnancy as long as it is taken 72-120 hours after unprotected intercourse, depending on the type. It is most effective, studies show, if taken quickly after.

The foundation also shared that a dedicated EC pill, Postinor, was registered for importation and sale in the Philippines, but in 2001, the Bureau of Food and Drugs reversed course and canceled its approval, saying that the drug had an “abortifacient effect.”

Medical researchers worldwide have concluded by consensus that EC is contraception, not abortion, however, and no significant debate on the question exists in the global field of obstetric science.

“Emergency contraceptive pills prevent pregnancy by preventing or delaying ovulation and they do not induce an abortion,” the World Health Organization (WHO) Fact Sheet on the topic states.

Repeated scientific studies have shown that human conception, the starting point of pregnancy, occurs five to 10 days after unprotected intercourse. Even if mistakenly taken too late, EC pills cannot harm a fetus or end a pregnancy, the group’s chief explained.

In addition, as per WHO guideline, there are no age limits for use of EC, and any woman or girl of reproductive age may use the method safely.

“To prevent pregnancy following unprotected intercourse, which may result from sexual abuse, intoxication, or even a broken condom, doctors may under Philippine Department of Health guidelines prescribe the so-called Yuzpe Method, an enlarged dose of combined oral contraceptive pills,” Bolande advised. (PNA)

 
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