Rising number of women turning to abortions

Updated: 2013-07-13 01:43

By Wang Qingyun (China Daily)

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Growing instances of disease, unwanted pregnancies and repeated abortions are the consequences of greater sexual activity among girls and young women who are paying less attention to safe sex, experts said.

About 16 percent of university students have had premarital sex, according to a study released on Thursday, World Population Day.

Increasing numbers of young women are turning to abortion, Shanghai's Institute of Family Planning Technique Guidance revealed.

More than 30 percent of women opting for abortions in the city were unmarried. And more than 60 percent of abortions were because women did not use protection

The younger they are, the less likely they are to take precautions.

"Many young couples choose sensual pleasure over protection, and regard abortion as a contraceptive," said Wang Xiangzhen, a gynecologist in the Women's and Children's Hospital in Shenzhen, adding that adolescent girls coming to her include high school students and factory workers.

Experts in Beijing have seen a similar phenomenon.

Gao Xiuju, a gynecologist at a publicly funded hospital in Beijing, said she sees more young women requesting abortions.

And they are getting younger.

About 10 percent of the women going there for abortion are under 18, and young unmarried women account for more than 50 percent of cases, she said.

"Most come here after falling pregnant for the second or third time."

But this almost careless approach can be dangerous, she warned.

Repeated abortions may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, fallopian tube obstructions and infertility.

"Before surgery, we inform them of the risk of abortions, things to look out for after surgery and how to have safe sex. But this advice often falls on deaf ears. Maybe they feel they are too young to have problems after abortions."

Xu Zhenlei, an expert in adolescent sex education at Peking University Health Science Center, said the number of university students coming to him for counseling after experiencing problems, such as unwanted pregnancy, is increasing.

University students today may be more mature than before but they still are not careful enough.

As students return, every September, there is a significant increase in abortions following holiday flings.

The reason, he suspects, is that many young people believe that getting pregnant is no big deal, because they can have a "painless abortion" which many hospitals are heavily advertising.

But even painless surgery entails risks and can endanger the reproductive system.

Schools lack courses on sexual health even as students are becoming more open toward sex, according to Xu.

The Ministry of Education published a guide in 2012 on mental health for primary and high school students.

The guide asked schools to help adolescents learn about physical and psychological changes they may be going through and how to interact with people of the opposite gender.

"However, the outline is not compulsory, and many schools don't have such courses, fearing opposition from parents," he said.

Jiang Mengyun contributed to this story.