Pregnancy loss: spontaneous and induced abortions among young women in Lusaka, Zambia

Cult Health Sex. 2010 Apr;12(3):247-62. doi: 10.1080/13691050903353383.


An estimated 60% of all adolescent pregnancies in low-income countries are unintended. The present study was carried out at the university hospital in Lusaka, Zambia over a four-month period in 2005. The aim was to explore experiences of pregnancy loss and to ascertain the girl's contraceptive knowledge and use and their partner's involvement in the pregnancy/abortion. Eighty-seven girls aged 13-19 years admitted to hospital for incomplete abortions were interviewed. Of these girls, 53 (61%) had had a spontaneous abortion and 34 (39%) had undergone an unsafe induced abortion. Significantly more girls with an unsafe induced abortion were single, students, had completed more years in school and were in less stable relationships. Girls' overall contraceptive knowledge and use was low and most pregnancies were unplanned. Partners played a decisive role in terminating pregnancy through unsafe induced abortion. Traditional healers, girls themselves and health professionals were the main abortion providers. Young women's health risks due to unprotected sex and lack of contraceptive services should urgently be addressed. The existence of the abortion law and access to emergency contraception should be better publicized in Zambia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / methods
  • Abortion, Induced / psychology
  • Abortion, Induced / statistics & numerical data*
  • Abortion, Spontaneous / epidemiology*
  • Abortion, Spontaneous / psychology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Contraception, Postcoital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unwanted
  • Young Adult
  • Zambia / epidemiology