Gender-based differences in fertility beliefs and knowledge among adolescents from high sexually transmitted disease-prevalence communities

Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States
Journal of Adolescent Health (Impact Factor: 2.75). 04/2006; 38(3):282-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2005.02.012
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Limited information is available about adolescents' beliefs about fertility in women and its link to sexually transmitted disease (STD) and whether men and women differ in their beliefs. This information may be useful for developing messages intended to motivate youth to seek STD screening while they are asymptomatic. The purpose of this study was to examine gender-based differences in fertility beliefs and knowledge.
Data were derived from the Adolescent Health Study, a population-based telephone survey study in which urban household adolescents from a high STD-prevalence community were queried about their sexual experience, fertility-related knowledge, beliefs related to timing of childbearing, and risk assessment of future fertility problems. Chi2 and regression analyses were used to evaluate group differences.
The majority of adolescents reported that having children was somewhat or very important, but that the 15- to 19-year-old age group was not the optimal time for a woman to have a child. Regression analyses indicated that female adolescents were more likely than male adolescents to identify chlamydia and pelvic inflammatory disease as causes of fertility problems. Seventy-two percent of adolescent girls thought there was some chance they would have future fertility problems and 58% thought they had little or no control over developing fertility problems in the future.
Additional health education is needed if we are to motivate adolescents to participate in asymptomatic STD screening programs. Involving male adolescents may be a more significant challenge given that fewer male adolescents understand the link between female fertility and common STD-related conditions. Given our findings, fertility preservation may be a valuable teaching tool and social marketing agent for STD prevention in adolescents.

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