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Shanghai Women's Low Contraceptive Awareness

More than half of Shanghai women who had abortions last year did not use any reliable form of contraception, said Dr Yan Fengting, a reproductive health expert, at a seminar on reproductive health in the city on June 5.

Her study sampled 800 women from the city and found that at least 60 percent who had at least one artificial abortion last year did not use contraception, she said.

"Chinese women never really have the chance to learn about contraception," said Yan. "We do have some lessons on physiology in high school, but they never really cover this sensitive topic."

Fifty-four percent of married women who had an artificial abortion did not use effective contraception and the figure rose to 80 percent among unmarried women, according to the study.

Yan said many women use the rhythm method, counting the days to find when they think they are "safe," which is not a reliable technique. "We have even seen women become pregnant 10 days after an abortion."

More than 44 percent of those who had artificial abortions had had at least two of them.

In Shanghai, 66 in every 1,000 women have had an abortion. The city has about 4.2 million women aged between 19 and 45.

"Surgery can result in many gynecological problems. What's more, it can bring huge mental suffering," said Yan. "About 40 percent of women fall into depression after an abortion."

For the city's youth, the artificial abortion rate is 7.2 percent, higher than Beijing's 5 percent.

Yan said Shanghai Family Planning and Reproductive Health has been visiting universities since last year to give lectures on contraception.

There are 40-60 million artificial abortions globally every year, indicating 37-55 for every 1000 fertile women.

China has about 100 million women aged 20-29, 27.3 percent of whom have had artificial abortions, representing 62 artificial abortions for every 1,000 fertile women. For every 100 babies born, there are 60 artificial abortions.

The east and northeast of the country have higher artificial abortion rates, and the northwest lower; cities have higher rates than rural areas.

(China Daily, China.org.cn June 9, 2005)

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