Abstract
REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH BEHAVIOR OF ADOLESCENT STUDENTS AND THEIR PERCEPTIONS REGARDING SEXUAL HEALTH EDUCATION

Dinesh Kumar*, Naveen K. Goel and Arjun Mehra

ABSTRACT

Background: Reproductive behaviour of adolescents is a potential determining factor for future population growth in a country. However, their reproductive and sexual health needs have so far been neglected. Objectives: to assess the reproductive behaviour of adolescent students in Chandigarh and their perceptions regarding reproductive health /family life education needs. Methods: Cross sectional survey conducted among 1819 adolescent students under Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), India sponsored project “Natural Mentoring and Its Impact on Health Conditions Of Adolescents”. Information was collected on socio-demographic characteristics and reproductive health behavior, sexual aspects of health, involvement in sexual activities, awareness regarding sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS and other reproductive health issues. Information was collected by conducting personal interviews in privacy. Results: Among all 1819 students including 1039 boys and 780 girls, 415 (22.8%) respondents had intimate friends. Discussions regarding reproductive health related issues including sex related material (83.0%), contraceptives (69.6%), body development (51.5%), sexual abuse (67.2%), sexual intercourse (65.1%), teenage pregnancy (61.7%), emergency contraceptives (52.3%), pre marital sex (46.6%), and night fall / wet dreams (18.5%) were reported. Among 655 girls who attained menarche 423(64.6%) reported to have some menstrual complaints sometimes. Contraceptive awareness was found to be significantly associated with gender (P=0.02) and girls were more aware of contraceptives (86.3%) as compared to boys (81.8%). Awareness of emergency contraceptives (EC) was found among 62.1% boys and 57.2% girls. Overall use of contraceptives mainly emergency contraceptive was reported by 5.1% respondents only whereas indulgence in sexual intercourse was reported by 6.7% adolescent students including 8.9% boys and 3.7% girls indicating unsafe sexual practices prevailing among surveyed respondents. Boys were more likely to have opinion of frank and open discussion about sex. There were 49.5% respondents who were of the opinion that discussion of sex should be confidential whereas 37.3% were of the opinion that it should be frank and open. There were 1521(83.6%) respondents who reportedly had knowledge about STI infections and 524(28.8%) had worries regarding sex. Girls were having more sex related worries (32.8%) as compared to boys (25.9%) and difference between two proportions being highly significant (P=0.005). Felt need of sex education was found among 1334(73.3%) students. Girls felt significantly higher degree of felt need of sex education (P<0.001). Most preferred place to impart sexual education was schools reported by 921(50.6%) students mostly to be imparted by medical doctors. Conclusions and Suggestions: Adolescents were found to be facing several reproductive and sexual health issues. There is felt need of Sexual Health Education (SHE)/ Family Life Education (FLE) to be imparted at school levels for improving their reproductive health. Addressing their reproductive health needs through school based sexual health education may provide health benefits in terms of delaying age at marriage, reducing incidence of teenage pregnancy, and reduction in unsafe sexual and other risky behaviors of adolescents.

Keywords: Adolescence, Emergency Contraceptives (EC), Family Life Education (FLE), Sexual Health Education (SHE), Sexual Behavior, Teenage pregnancy, Reproductive Tract Infections (RTIs).


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