Reproductive Health Matters, 9 (17), pp. 53-62
In India, most adolescent girls 15-19 years old are married. A study was conducted in 1995-97 in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, India to gain insight into whether and how their reproductive health needs are met, especially for gynaecological problems, family planning and perceived fertility problems. It included a survey among 302 married girls of this age, and in-depth interviews with 74 girls, 37 husbands and 53 mothers-in-law. Girls were treated quickly for illnesses interfering with domestic work and were expected to conceive in the first year of marriage. Menstrual disorders and symptoms of reproductive tract infection often went untreated. There was an emerging need for delaying and spacing pregnancies; limiting the number of children was well established. Household work, protection of fertility and silence arising from embarrassment related to sexual health problems were the strongest factors influencing care-seeking. Husbands made the decision whether their wives could seek care and mother-in-law sometimes influenced these decisions; girls had neither decision-making power nor influence. This study provides valuable input for the new reproductive and child health programme in Maharashtra.
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