Abortion, contraceptive use, and adolescent pregnancy among first-year medical students at a major public university in Mexico City
Ortiz-Ortega A, De La Torre GG, Galvan F, Gravioto P, Paz F, Diaz-Olavarrieta C, Ellertson C, Cravioto A. Abortion, contraceptive use, and adolescent pregnancy among first-year medical students at a major public university in Mexico City. Revista Panamerica de Salud Publica. August 2003; 14(2):125-130.
OBJECTIVE: If properly trained, medical students could become future opinion leaders in health policy and could help the public to understand the consequences of unwanted pregnancies and of abortions. The objective of this study was to analyze the frequency of unwanted pregnancies and induced abortions that had occurred among women who were first-year medical students at a major public university in Mexico City and to compare the experiences of those women with the experiences of the general population of Mexican females aged 15 to 24.
METHODS: In 1998 we administered a cross-sectional survey to all the first-year medical students at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, which is the largest university in Latin America. For this study we analyzed 549 surveys completed by female students.
RESULTS: Out of the 549 women, 120 of them (22%) had been sexually active at some point. Among those 120 sexually active students, 100 of them (83%) had used a contraceptive method at some time, and 19 of the 120 (16%) had been pregnant. Of those 19 women who had been pregnant, 10 of them had had an illegal induced abortion (in Mexico, abortions are illegal except under a small number of extenuating circumstances). The reported abortion rate among the female medical students, 2%, was very low in comparison with the 11% rate for women of similar ages in the Mexican general population.
CONCLUSIONS: The lower incidence of abortion among the female medical students indicates that when young Mexican women have access to medical information and are highly motivated to avoid unintended pregnancy and abortion, they can do so.