Adolescent sexual and reproductive health remains a major public health and development issue of global importance. Given that adolescents and young people are heterogenous groups in terms of many characteristics, this study expands the literature by comparing the reasons for contraceptive discontinuation between parenting adolescents (aged 15–19) and parenting young women (aged 20–24) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
Data for the study came from Demographic and Health Surveys of 22 SSA countries. The outcome variable was reasons for discontinuation. We performed multilevel binary logistic regression on analytic samples comprising 1485 parenting adolescents and 10,287 parenting young women across the selected SSA countries.
Findings show that the proportion of respondents who used modern contraceptives was lower among parenting adolescents (35%) relative to their 20–24-year-old counterparts (43%). Higher percentages of parenting adolescents than young women discontinued contraceptives because of reasons such as pregnancy or method failure (i.e., 9.9% and 8.17% accordingly), husband disapproval, access or availability issues, wanting more effective methods, and inconvenience in using methods. The multilevel analysis further highlighted disparities between parenting adolescents and parenting young women who discontinued contraceptives. For instance, parenting young women had 30% lower odds of discontinuing contraceptives due to pregnancy or method failure than parenting adolescents.
The study established disparities in the reasons for contraceptive discontinuation between parenting adolescents and parenting young women, with adolescents demonstrating greater vulnerabilities and higher risks. Considerable attention must be given to parenting adolescents in the efforts to achieve equity goals such as the Sustainable Development Goals and universal health coverage in SSA.