María del Rosario Fátima Juárez Carcaño, a researcher at El Colegio de México (COLMEX), spoke at the seminar "Processes and actors of the population" which was put on by the Regional Center for Multidisciplinary Research (CRIM) of the UNAM. She said that women between the ages of 15 and 24 say that they don't use birth control because they have irregular sexual relationships and don't like the side effects.
When you look at teen birth rates all over the world, Africa and Latin America have the highest rates. Even though things are getting better, there are still 70.6 births for every 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 19.
Use of contraceptives in Mexico
According to the National Survey of Demographic Dynamics in Mexico, the number of married women who use contraceptives has gone down by 9%, especially among women aged 15–19, from 64.9 % in 2014 to 55.3 % in 2018. The number of single women who use contraceptives has gone up slightly, from 57.5 % in 2014 to 60.5 % in 2018.
Single women in that age range who said they didn't have sex often went from 39.3 percent to 69.2 percent, and those aged 20 to 24 went from 30.09 percent to 62.1 percent. The next reason is health effects. For 15- to 19-year-olds, the rate dropped from 13.2% in 2014 to 5.6% in 2018.
"Striking is the changes observed among married women. In 2014 rarely married women mentioned sporadic sex as a reason with 11.4 percent, but by 2018 this reason increases strongly, being four times higher than in the previous period, with 52 percent," said Juárez Carcaño.
It is strange that the number of teen pregnancies in Mexico is higher than in Colombia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, or Jamaica.
She thought it was important to delay the start of sexual life to cut down on unplanned pregnancies and the number of sexual partners, to get more people to use condoms and birth control, and to cut down on abortions.
Even though the start of sexual life has been pushed back around the world, estimates show that in Mexico it happens at a younger age and that there are 1.26 million abortions each year, of which 500,000 are done on teenagers and young adults between the ages of 15 and 24.
In the 1970s, 7.1 children were born to every woman. By the mid-1990s, that number had dropped to two. The problem is that it stayed at that level, and there isn't much research on how contraceptives are used or why people don't use them.
Although the use of contraceptives is relatively high, their adoption is unequal among age groups, since among young women the prevalence is relatively low, and unplanned pregnancies continue to be high.
Early Pregnancy in Mexico and Colombia
Paula Mercedes Martes Camargo, who has a master's degree in Population Studies and Regional Development from the Centro de Investigaciones Multidisciplinarias CRIM of the UNAM, agreed with her and is now comparing the rates of teenage pregnancy in Mexico and Colombia.
Her work "Key elements for the analysis of early motherhood: The case of Colombia and Mexico" shows that in 2019, 15% of all live births in Mexico and 10% in Colombia were to women younger than 20.
Teenage motherhood is something that happens in all Mexican cities and towns. Most of them live in Sonora, Chihuahua, and Coahuila. In the south, Campeche, Guerrero, and Chiapas have the most.
"Adolescent motherhood at the municipal level in Mexico is associated with low socioeconomic status, the percentage of working women, and the number of reported live births. This can be explained by the high concentration in municipalities with low socioeconomic status. In addition, it is associated with never having married, currently attending school, and having access to health services," she explained.
The researchers were in charge of closing the 2022 cycle of the "Population Processes and Actors" Seminar, which will resume activities in February 2023.