The Sexual Health of 45 Million (adolescent women in Latin America and the Caribbean)

As we approach World Sexual Health Day on September 4th, we’ll feature a series of blog posts that deal with themes of sexual health and rights. 

Helping adolescents protect their health is an important public health priority. Beyond benefiting young people themselves, increased investment in adolescent sexual and reproductive health contributes to broader development goals, especially improvements in the overall status of women and, eventually, reductions in poverty among families.

Inadequate or incomplete knowledge about contraception and how to obtain health services, high risk of sexual violence and little independence in deciding on the timing of births or use of contraception are a few reasons why many adolescent women in developing countries are especially vulnerable to ill health.

Today, we look at facts from the Guttmacher Institute on the sexual and reproductive health of adolescent women in the developing world, with a focus on Latin America and the Caribbean:

THE FACTS:

  • There are 45 million adolescent women aged 15–19 in Latin America and the Caribbean, accounting for about a fifth of all women of reproductive age (15–49) in the region.
  • About one in four adolescent women in South America have ever had sex.
  • In 2008, adolescent women in the developing world had an estimated 14.3 million births.
  • 80% of married adolescent women in Latin America and the Caribbean want to avoid a birth in the next two years.
  • 54% of married adolescents and 50% of unmarried, sexually active adolescent women who do not want a pregnancy in Latin America and the Caribbean are using a modern contraceptive method. 48% of all sexually active adolescents who do not want a child soon have unmet need for modern contraception.
  • Adolescents account for an estimated 2.5 million of the approximately 19 million unsafe abortions that occur annually in the developing world.
  • Providing all sexually active adolescent women who do not want a pregnancy with access to modern contraceptive services would cost an estimated $82 million in Latin America and the Caribbean.

For the full fact sheet, which includes more on adolescent women in Latin America and the Caribbean in addition to those living in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Central and Southeast Asia, click here.


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