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Finnish teenagers often neglect contraception
Nearly half of upper secondary school pupils unaware that first intercourse can result in pregnancy
More than 10,000 abortions were performed in Finland last year. According to figures put out by the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), the largest number of terminations were performed on women aged 20 to 24.
A third of abortion patients under the age of 20 said that they had not used any type of contraception.
A survey on school health conducted by THL last year reveals that nearly half of young people of upper secondary school age were unaware that pregnancy is possible during the first sexual experience.
Of the respondents, 39 per cent said that they had not used any kind of contraception during their most recent sexual encounter.
Just talking about contraception with friends can be difficult for some.
Helsinki residents Jerry Rasila, 19, and Emilia Niemi, 18, say that they can name five people in their circle of friends who have undergone an abortion.
“The information came indirectly. However, she was my own friend”, Rasila says.
Niemi feels that it would be easier to talk about birth control if the issue were discussed more openly. “The products and contraception should be brought out into public more, through more advertising, for instance”, Niemi says.
Nurse Pia Tuovinen of the City of Helsinki Health Centre says that young people often assume that their contemporaries already know all that there is to know. Many do not like to talk about what they see as a private issue with others.
“We hardly ever talk about the subject among friends. At least with people that we do not know it is unpleasant”, Jerry Rasila says.
Tuovinen says that schools should offer more sex education at an earlier age. “Adults should encourage young people through their own example, and give them permission to talk and to ask about contraception.”
Information about sexual matters and birth control does not reach all young people, and for some contraceptive measures are too expensive.
In Norway, girls under the age of 19 can get birth control pills for free. In the north of Sweden, free birth control is guaranteed to all women under the age of 26.
The price is not the only obstacle to acquiring birth control. Tuovinen says that young girls are often concerned that parents might find out if they get birth control pills.