According to a new study, fewer U.S. women between the ages of 15 to 24 are receiving reproductive healthcare.
Reproductive care in the study included pregnancy tests, Pap smears, tests for sexually transmitted diseases, prescriptions for contraception and other gynecological services.
The study was based on data from the National Survey of Family Growth, which polled 4,421 young women in 2002 or between 2006 and 2008, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The study showed that within the last year, nearly 60 percent of young women had received reproductive healthcare, but use of the services has decreased by 8 percent between the two time periods.
According to the leader of the authors, Kelli Stidham Hall of the Office of Population Research at Princeton, young women’s use of reproductive health services increased between 1995 and 2002.
Although a decrease in the use of reproductive services was observed across all groups and demographics, poorer women were least likely to receive reproductive care overall.
The study notes some of the possible factors contributing to fewer women using reproductive health services include: increased unemployment; a decline in public clinics serving underprivileged women; laws increasing mandatory parental inclusion in adolescent reproductive and sexual health care and improved gynecological screening guidelines that require less Pap smears.
"Our findings may be a reflection of changing social, economic, and political contexts in which reproductive services were needed and provide over the last decade," the authors of the study wrote.
The American Journal of Public Health published the story online.