Unwanted pregnancies among teenagers are on the rise despite availability of a host of contraceptives. Fear of social stigma and parents' wrath makes teens take drastic steps which at times put their lives in danger. Damage can be both physical and psychological. The need for young is to take precautions and parents to be patient. A report by Ashish Tripathi
LUCKNOW: Keya realised about it only when she missed her period. She told her boyfriend who took him to a small private clinic in the outskirts. It took an hour for medical termination of pregnancy (MTP). Life was back on track. But the 18-years-old girl soon started having problem in urinating. This time on the advice of a friend, she went to a qualified gynaecologist, who found that Keya had developed urinary tract infection (UTI) because of `unhygienic' MTP.
Keya reached a qualified doctor on time but 17-years-old Smriti popped up two abortion pills on the advice of a nurse which aborted half of the fetus. The dead tissue remained inside leading to infection and continuous bleeding. She fainted twice in school. Her boyfriend deserted her at this crucial time. The panic stricken girl also thought of committing suicide but one of her teachers found out what happened and took her to a doctor. It took three months to cure the problem.
Like Keya and Smriti, many girls fall victim to quacks or unqualified medical staff. There is no exact data but doctors admit that teenage pregnancies are rising, despite availability of contraceptives, including emergency pills. As society still doesn't accept such behaviour, most girls avoid going to a government doctor to keep the `affair' a secret. They also don't have money to afford a good private clinic and fall prey to quacks, endangering their lives.
Prof Vinita Das, head, gynaecology department, Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University (CSMMU), emphasised on the need of sensitising both the youngsters and their parents. "In such cases girls want to keep the affair a secret because of stigma, hence they avoid government hospitals," she said, adding, "while girls need to be judicious in deciding `priorities', parents should be more understanding and helping because a mistake does not mean end of the life."
A recent survey conducted by the Amity Institute of Behavioural and Applied Sciences and published by TOI showed that over 48% youth between 18-24 years is having pre-marital relationships, of which nearly 12% are sexually active. New solutions like emergency contraceptive pills have further increased the indulgence. Curiosity is even making teenagers to experiment. In the absence of sex education and proper guidance from parents, youngsters land in trouble.
"Forget about the morality issue, the important thing now is awareness," said Dr Neelam Singh, gynaecologist and health activist. Admitting that mishandled MTP cases of teenagers are rising, she said that half-baked information is more harmful than ignorance. "The pills have to be taken in proper ratio and within a particular time. While prescribing drugs, we also have to keep in mind the medical history -- weak liver/kidney, allergy to a certain compound etc," she said.
"Time is the most crucial factor, hence girls should report as soon as they miss a cycle. We can manage unwanted pregnancy through medicines in first 49 days," said Prof Dr SP Jaiswar, gynaecology department, CSMMU, stressing on the need for sensitisation of teenagers, particularly girls as they suffer the most in such cases. "It is very important to make them aware of the `unsafe period', use of contraception and harmful effects of overdose," she added.
The Lucknow chapter of Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecologist Societies of India (FOGSI), will soon be launching an awareness drive in 50 girl schools and colleges in the city. The aim would be to make girls aware of maternal health and precautions in sexual behaviour besides other health issues. The leading gynaecologists of the city will visit schools, interact with girls. encourage them to ask questions without any hesitation and answer their queries.