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Medical News

Gender-Based Differences in Fertility Beliefs and Knowledge Among Adolescents From High Sexually Transmitted Disease-Prevalence Communities

July 3, 2006

Limited information exists about adolescents' beliefs about fertility in women and its link to sexually transmitted disease, and whether men and women hold different beliefs. Such information could be useful for developing messages intended to encourage youth to seek STD testing while they are asymptomatic. The investigators sought to examine gender-based differences in fertility beliefs and knowledge.

Data were derived from the Adolescent Health Study, a population-based telephone study in which urban household adolescents from a high STD-prevalence community were surveyed about their sexual experience, fertility-related knowledge, beliefs concerning timing of childbearing, and risk assessment of future fertility problems. Group differences were evaluated using chi-square and regression analyses.

The majority of participants 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 showed that female adolescents were more likely than their male counterparts to identify chlamydia and pelvic inflammatory disease as causes of fertility problems. The data revealed that 72 percent of adolescent girls believed there was some chance they would face fertility problems in the future and 58 percent thought they had little or no control over developing such problems later.

"Additional health education is needed if we are to motivate adolescents to participate in asymptomatic STD screening programs," the investigators concluded. "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."

Back to other news for July 3, 2006

Adapted from:
Journal of Adolescent Health
03.06; Vol. 38; No. 3: P. 282-287; Maria Trent, M.D., M.P.H; Susan G. Millstein, Ph.D.; Jonathan M. Ellen, M.D.

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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