On 25 August at 14 Made Laanpere will defend her PhD thesis titled "Factors influencing women’s sexual health and reproductive choices in Estonia" in the Faculty of Medicine in the University of Tartu.
Supervisor: Professor Helle Karro, MD, PhD, University of Tartu
Opponent: Professor Johanne Sundby, MD, PhD, University of Oslo, Norway
The overall aim of this research was to provide evidence on factors influencing women's sexual health and reproductive choices in Estonia, analysing unintended pregnancies, contraception use, and intimate partner violence. The research was based on data from the Estonian Abortion Registry and a population-based cross-sectional survey.
Estonia has experienced a remarkable decline in the number of induced abortions, mainly attributed by younger cohorts, during the last two decades. The high proportion of repeat abortion is showing a declining trend across all the sociodemographic groups, however, the proportion of unintended pregnancies ending in an abortion was higher among non-Estonians. The prevalence of use of unreliable contraception among women who do not want to get pregnant is high: among Estonians 27.3% and among non-Estonians 39.9% of these women did not use any, or used an unreliable contraceptive method. Intimate partner violence, associated with adverse sexual health outcomes, i.e. unintended pregnancies and unreliable contraceptive practices, is very common in Estonia – 18.4 % of women were exposed to physical or sexual violence during the year before the survey.
According to our findings, in order to continue the positive trends and decrease the burden of sexual ill-health, there is a need to improve contraceptive counselling, especially addressing the needs of the Russian ethnic group to avoid unintended pregnancies and to develop and implement a strategy and guidelines for dealing with intimate partner violence in the health care system in Estonia.