Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality

Sex Research Update

Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality

Sex Research Update

Article excerpt

This instalment of Sex Research Update summarizes recent research on trends in rates of teen pregnancy in Canada; the natural history of HPV infection in young women; the effectiveness of Nonoxynol-9 for preventing STD infection; the impact of a high school condom availability program; the association between male circumcision and sexual dysfunctions and behaviour; and the influence of religion on beliefs about premarital sex.

Wadhera, S. & Millar, W.J. (1997). Teenage Pregnancies, 1974 to 1994. Health Reports, 9, 9-17.

Rates of teenage pregnancy are the topic of frequent discussion, with even subtle upward or downward shifts in these rates being speculatively attributed to a wide variety of causes. This report from Wadhera and Millar from the Health Statistics Division at Statistics Canada summarizes data on rates of pregnancy among females aged 15 to 19 in Canada between 1974 and 1994, and provides provincial and international comparisons. (Note: the number of pregnancies is calculated by summing the number of live births, miscarriages, still births, and therapeutic abortions). In 1994, there were 46,753 pregnancies among Canadian teenage women.

Between 1974 and 1994, the rate of teen pregnancy in Canada declined from 53.7 per 1,000 to 48.8 per 1,000. The lowest rate occurred in 1987 at 41.1 per 1,000. Trends in pregnancy rates for younger (15-17) and older (18-19) teens were similar, although rates among the older teens were more than double those for younger teens. The rate among the 15-17 year old group increased from a low of 25.3 in 1987 to 30.2 in 1994. In the 18 and 19 year old group, the rate increased from a low of 61.8 in 1984 to 76.2 in 1994.

In 1994, as in the past, there was considerable variation among provincial teen pregnancy rates. The highest rate was in the Northwest Territories (136.7), followed by Yukon (88.0), Manitoba (64.4), Saskatchewan (63.0), Alberta (54.2), Nova Scotia (44.1), British Columbia (40.7), New Brunswick (40.3), Ontario (39.6), Quebec (33.1), Newfoundland (32.1), and Prince Edward Island (31.5). As the authors note, provincial rates should be interpreted with "considerable caution" because they exclude clinic abortions. Furthermore, "Residents of provinces where few abortions, hospital or clinic, are performed may travel to other provinces to obtain one" (p. 14).

Wadhera and Millar provide an international comparison for teenage pregnancy rates in 13 countries for the year 1988. In that year, Canada's teen pregnancy rate was less than half of that in the United States and lower than in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, New Zealand, England and Wales, and Iceland. However, Canada had a teen pregnancy rate equal to Norway, higher than Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, and the Canadian rate was more than double that of the Netherlands and Japan.

Ho, G., Bierman, R., Beardsley, L., Chang, C., & Burk, R. (1998). Natural history of cervicovaginal papillomavirus in young women. New England Journal of Medicine, 338, 423-428.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. The health implications of HPV infection can be significant, as there is a recognized causal relationship between genital HPV infection and cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer. The authors note, that we have limited knowledge of the natural history of HPV and of the risk factors for becoming infected.

Ho and colleagues followed 608 women (mean age = 20 [+ or -] 3 years) from a New Jersey university at six month intervals for three years to obtain data on lifestyle, sexual behaviour, and physical evidence of HPV infection. At each visit, subjects completed questionnaires, and cervicovaginal-lavage samples were taken to detect HPV DNA. Pap smears were taken once a year.

At baseline, the prevalence of HPV infection was 26%. For women who were HPV negative at baseline, 43% acquired HPV over the 36 month study period. The average annual incidence of HPV infection in this sample was 14%. …

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