What is pregnancy?
Most of us have actually come across the word pregnancy. This is the period between conception and birth. Pregnancy often occurs due to sexual intercourse between a man and a woman, but in other cases it can occur through assisted medical interventions where a female is artificially inseminated with sperms from a male donor or a partner. Another way it can occur is when an ovum is fertilised by a sperm outside the body before it is inserted into the womb, usually medically done. Pregnancy is a beautiful journey which can be both simple and complicated, most of us will never really understand until we experience it or someone close to us does.
How does pregnancy occur?
In every mature female, ovulation [the production of an ovum[egg] by the ovary] takes place. This often occurs simultaneously between the two ovaries. This egg is released to the fallopian tube where if there is no sperm to fertilise it in 24 hours, the ovum breaks down and later comes out as menstruation. In case there is a sperm, the ovum will get fertilised [the process by which the mature egg meets the sperm]. Most times fertilization occurs in the fallopian tube. The fertilised egg then moves from the fallopian tube into the uterus, commonly known as the womb where it gets implanted [the process by which the fertilised egg gets attached to the uterine lining], in some cases the fertilised egg can remain in the fallopian tube. Once implantation occurs the embryo starts to develop.
It is wise to note that even though rare, fertilization can also occur when the semen is deposited at the entrance of the vagina during ejaculation. Sperms can survive for around five days inside the fallopian tube, so even if someone had sex five days before ovulation, it is still possible to get pregnant. Pregnancy can also occur in teens who have not yet started menstruating because ovulation at times occurs but with no physical sign to accompany it, this is however rare.
Who is a teenager?
The simplest definition of a teenager is looking at the alphabetical numbers and how they end. What I’m trying to say is as long as a person’s age ends with a teen then that person is a teenager. So a teenager is any young person between thirteen to nineteen years. For the purpose of this article though and the adjacent ones, we will grade any young girl less than thirteen years but capable of getting pregnant as a teenager. It is also important to note that if a person got pregnant while nineteen but delivers when she twenty, then we no longer grade that as a teenage pregnancy since we judge it by when someone gives birth. This is the stage where most children, both male and female are curious about things and want to try out almost everything. It is also the stage where they are discovering themselves as individuals. Without the right guidance and information, they tend to mess up in one way or another. Funnily enough, the young folk know so much about everything we would love to tell them, even more than we do, the sad news however is that most of the information they have is rather negative.
What is teenage pregnancy?
After breaking it all down, we understand that this is the combination of two different words to produce one word with one meaning. So teenage pregnancy is where a female within thirteen to nineteen years conceives. It’s important to note that girls less than thirteen years can also conceive. Teenage pregnancy is a major global issue. According to WHO, about 16 million girls aged 15 to 19 years and some 1 million girls under 15 years give birth every year, most in low and middle income countries. Complications are inevitable during pregnancy and childbirth and these are the second cause of death for 15 to 19-year-old girls globally. Again, every year, some 3 million girls aged 15-19 years undergo unsafe abortions. Teenage pregnancy is often times not planned for. Babies born to teenage mothers are also likely to have complications or die, that is if she manages to carry the pregnancy to term because sometimes miscarriages occur.
Pregnancy, though not a disease has its own signs and symptoms which we will discuss in depth later on. Now you are at that point that you suspect you might be pregnant, and the question that is going through your mind is, how do I know that I’m actually pregnant? The first sign is always a missed period but remember not every time someone has a missed period proves that the person is pregnant. Missed periods can a times occur due to stress, change in the environment, lack of enough sleep, lack of proper nutrition, use of some contraceptives among others. So apart from the missed period and the famous morning sickness (nausea and vomiting can be signs of a whole lot of things) one needs to do a pregnancy test. A pregnancy test is used to confirm if one is pregnant. There are two main types, one uses urine (mostly home pregnancy tests) while the other uses blood (mostly done in hospitals). Both will detect HCG (human chorionic gonadotropic) a hormone produced once the egg is implanted in the uterus. Most urine pregnancy tests recommend that a person repeats the test after a few days, or if she has tested positive to see her doctor for a confirmation test since one day be pregnant but the test may read negative. Most of them can detect HCG within one day to one week. Most teenagers opt for the home tests because of the stigma that may result from being found pregnant in the hospital facility.
How to use a pregnancy test?
There are a lot of home pregnancy tests currently, with the necessary guidelines on how to effectively use them. So read the instructions carefully before use. Ensure you retest, especially if it reads negative and you highly suspect you might be expectant, or even if it reads positive. It is good to go to your local pharmacy to ask for what they have and if possible to recommend for you the best and most affordable for you.