17 May 2022

Fluke Mentality and Misconceptions About Contraceptive Effectiveness Correlate with Rise in Unintended Pregnancy

Teen’s Key stresses conceptive autonomy education and dual protection

  • From 2010 to 2014, 44% of pregnancies worldwide were accidental[1], and 60% of such pregnancies ended with abortion in Southeast Asia (59-62% in Southeast and Central Asia [2&3]).
  • According to a 2021 report by the United Nations Population Fund, the pandemic blocked access to contraceptive services for an average of 3.6 months, resulting in 1.4 million undesired pregnancies in more than 100 countries [4].
  • In Hong Kong, “assistance cases related to unintended pregnancies have tripled since 2020 and have risen. It is crucial to remind both men and women of the importance of ‘dual protection’, for a moment of negligence may change a young pregnant woman’s life forever,” states Ms Carey Choi, Programme Assistant Manager & Professional Sexuality Educator from Teen’s Key Hong Kong, a local non-profit organisation providing girls and young women with all-rounded sexuality and reproduction health education.

Walking the Tightrope of Contraception: Fluke Mentality of Unintended Pregnancies

  • According to Choi, Teen’s Key received an average of 5-6 cases of unintended pregnancy calls per month, but the number rose threefold since 2020 to about 20 cases per month for two years, showing no signs of slowing down.
  • “Many girls know safe contraception is crucial, but because of fluke mentality and to satisfy their partners, they do not use condoms throughout the entire sexual intercourse, or even no condoms at all.” Most young people learn about other contraceptive methods besides condoms from peers, social media and online forums, but what they receive is not always accurate. According to Choi, some girls thought “seven days before and after” and the “withdrawal method” were adequate contraceptive measures. “They have false wishes for a fluke, and after a few times of sheer luck, they were convinced that they wouldn’t ‘hit the jackpot’.”
  • Choi added that some help seekers said they still ended up pregnant despite using condoms. “Using male condoms effectively prevents sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), but incorrect use of condoms may sharply reduce its contraceptive effectiveness. Therefore, young women should also use autonomous contraceptive methods and ensure ‘dual protection.”

Mental Breakdown due to Unintended pregnancy
Physical and mental therapies may take up to 8 years

  • After they find themselves pregnant, these young women still have to face a chain of problems and disruptions to life plans, no matter their decision. The absence of prompt assistance may cause helplessness or even mental breakdown.
  • Carey shared a case where a young girl discovered her pregnancy on the eve of the DSE exam. The girl was too afraid to confess to her family and hence helpless. She eventually asked Teen’s Key for help. After an immediate counseling session, the girl chose to discuss it with her family and undergo a surgical abortion with the family’s consent. The girl, according to Choi, was unable to cope with DSE, and this could but give up the exam. She withdrew from the DSE as she struggled with economic, further education, and emotional challenges.” Choi added that most young women seeking counseling support for unintended pregnancies and termination of pregnancies were from low-income and marginalized families. Without family support, they usually have to undergo counseling therapies for 3-6 years, or even up to 8 years in some cases.

Contraceptive Autonomy Myths Debunked & Importance of Dual Protection

  • Both parties in sexual intercourse are responsible for contraception, and young women should not solely depend on male contraception.
  • When providing contraceptive advice to its clients, Teen’s Key usually recommends a variety of contraceptive options. However, on average, 3 out of every five girls are resistant to hormonal contraceptive methods due to prejudice and misunderstanding. “The main reason we found was that girls often received all sorts of misinformation from the internet, leading to resistance to female contraceptive methods such as birth control pills and vaginal rings, while they are effective and reliable.”
  • Therefore, this year, Teen’s Key will invite gynecologists and other medical professionals to host sex education seminars on correct sexual knowledge and female contraceptive methods. It’s part of the organization’s mission to teach girls not to rely exclusively on male contraception and be autonomous in contraceptive measures. “We hope both men and women will have ‘dual protection’ before a sexual intercourse to prevent unintended pregnancies, for a moment of negligence may change their lives forever.”

[1] Bearak, J., Popinchalk, A., Alkerma, L., Sedgh, G., (2018). Global, regional, and subregional Trends in Unintended Pregnancy and its Outcomes from 1990 to 2014: Estimates from a Bayesian Hierarchical Model.

2&3 The Lancet, Volume 6, Issue 4, PE380-E389; Bearak J et al., Unintended pregnancy and abortion by income, region, and the legal status of abortion: estimates from a comprehensive model for 1990–2019, Lancet Global Health, 2020, 8(9) Singh, S., G. Sedgh, et al. (2010). Unintended pregnancy: worldwide levels, trends, and outcomes.

4 UN: Pandemic Blocked Access to Birth Control in 115 Low- and Medium-Income Countries https://www.voanews.com/a/covid-19-pandemic_un-pandemic-blocked-access-birth-control-115-low-andmedium-income-countries/6203209.html (date of access 4 Apr 2022)

“Did you know that girls and young women are at a high risk for developing mental health problems, but often don't have access to the support they need?”
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