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Eating Disorders and Unplanned Pregnancies

Eating Disorders and Unplanned Pregnancies  A new study has found that women with anorexia nervosa are much more likely to have both unplanned pregnancies and induced abortions than women who don’t have the serious eating disorder.

These results may be driven by a mistaken belief among women with anorexia that they can’t get pregnant because they are either not having menstrual periods at all or are having irregular periods, said Cynthia M. Bulik, PhD.

“Anorexia is not a good contraceptive,” Bulik said.

“Just because you’re not menstruating, or because you’re menstruating irregularly, doesn’t mean you’re not at risk for becoming pregnant.”

Physicians and other health care providers need to be aware of this as well, Bulik said.

Doctors who treat women and adolescent girls, in particular, “need to make sure that they have the conversation about sexuality and contraception as clearly with patients with anorexia as they do with all other girls and women.”

In addition, providers who take care of pregnant women need to know when their patients have an eating disorder in order to provide appropriate care. Screening for eating disorders during prenatal visits would be an excellent first step, Bulik said.

In the study, published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, Bulik and study co-authors analyzed data collected from 62,060 women as part of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. There were 62 women in this sample who reported having anorexia nervosa.

The differences between women with anorexia and women with no eating disorder were striking.

The average age of the mothers at delivery was 26.2 years in women with anorexia, compared with 29.9 years in the referent group of women without eating disorders.

Fifty percent of women with anorexia reported unplanned pregnancies, compared with 18.9 percent, while 24.2 percent of women with anorexia reported having induced abortions in the past, compared to 14.6 percent.

Source: University of North Carolina

Eating Disorders and Unplanned Pregnancies

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Eating Disorders and Unplanned Pregnancies. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/11/01/eating-disorders-and-unplanned-pregnancies/20394.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.