Objectives: Acceptance of sexual and reproductive health as fundamental to the sustainable development of societies has allowed for creation of new reproductive health programmes and policies. WHO sexual and reproductive health (SRH) strategies were developed in the WHO Regional Office for Europe (2001), as well as globally (2004). Adolescent SRH is important in both strategies. Despite these commitments, adolescents remain vulnerable to poor reproductive health. The goal of this paper is to analyse the current status of SRH of adolescents in Europe.
Methods: Key reproductive health indicators were chosen. Information was obtained from published studies, databases and questionnaires sent to WHO reproductive health counterparts within the health ministries in the Member States of the WHO European Region.
Results: Pregnancy rate, age at first sexual intercourse, contraceptive use at first and last intercourse, contraceptive prevalence, HIV knowledge, and STI rates vary widely according to the population considered. Gender difference and lack of information pertaining to SRH of all adolescent populations are other key findings.
Conclusions: While the SRH of most European adolescents is good, they remain a vulnerable population. Lack of standardized reproductive indicators and age specific aggregate data make it difficult to accurately assess the situation in individual countries or perform cross country comparison.