Taiwan's Poor Concepts of Birth Control Has Led to 500,000 Abortions Annually

Taiwan's Poor Concepts of Birth Control Has Led to 500,000 Abortions Annually
Photo Credit: José Manuel Ríos Valiente @Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0
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Taiwan has about 200,000 newborns each year, but 400,000 people are taking birth control pills (RU486), which means only one-third of pregnancies happen willingly and two-thirds choose to have an abortion.

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According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, married women between 20 to 49 years old that choose contraception methods take up only 70 percent and this has led to many unintended pregnancies.

Chen Jing-hui, doctor at the Gynecology and Obstetrics Department at the Taipei Medical University Hospital, says that 60 percent of her patients are couples that planned their first child, but up to 80 percent second pregnancies were accidents.

The medical community estimates, there are about 500,000 abortions annually in Taiwan, which is about 2.3 times the number of newborns.

Apple Daily reports, Chen says that there are two types of unintended pregnancies. In a lot of cases, no means of birth control was used, such as failing to plan the safe days to have sex, not using a condom and so on.

Also, women having their first baby firmly believe that they don’t ovulate when they breastfeed and do not use any birth control. This can lead to accidental babies.

Chen points out that even though women can suppress ovulation during the time they breastfeed, it is only effective if they breastfeed every two to three hours. This isn’t possible for women that have jobs. Having sex without using contraception methods may also unexpectedly lead to a second child.

Chen says, facing unwanted pregnancies, some couples unwillingly give birth to a second child, but 40 percent choose abortion.

Dianthus MFM Center gynecologist Lin Si-hong says Taiwan has about 200,000 newborns each year, but 400,000 people are taking birth control pills (RU486), which means only one-third of pregnancies happen willingly and two-thirds choose to have an abortion. Adding on the amount of surgery abortions, the number of unplanned pregnancies is unimaginable. According to estimations made by the medical community, there may be up to 500,000 abortions each year.

Chen says the unintended pregnancy rate around the world is about four percent, but the rate in Taiwan has reached up to seven percent, which is higher than the six percent in Japan and five percent in the U.S.

A national survey on the birth control measures taken by married women between 20 to 35 years old states that the most used contraceptive method is the condom (58.9 percent), following are intrauterine devices, planning safe days within the menstrual cycle, birth control pills and vasectomies.

According to clinical observation, women are afraid of judgment if seen carrying condoms, therefore it is still a male-dominated type of birth control method. Also, everyone’s ovulation cycle is different so planning the safe days of the menstruation cycle is not reliable.

UDN reports, Lin says the Taiwanese should try to change their concepts of birth control. Sayings that intrauterine devices will cause discomfort, bleeding and dissatisfaction of your partner are wrong. Birth control isn’t something to be ashamed of and contraceptive devices are improving.

Lin says the latest Mirena Intrauterine System is about 3 cm and only takes 20 seconds to fix up. Not a lot of pain is felt, but there might be side effects such as easy bleeding in the first few days. It is recommended that the device be inserted a week before menstruating and can prevent pregnancy for up to five years. Mirena isn’t covered by health insurance and a doctor is required to implant the mechanism. It is over 90 percent effective and is a new choice for women who are looking for planned pregnancies.

Translated by Sarah Grasdijk and Olivia Yang
Edited by Olivia Yang

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