Gynaecological health care utilization and use of sex hormones—the study of Health in Pomerania

S Schwarz, H Völzke, D Alte, W Hoffmann, U John, M Dören
Human Reproduction 2005, 20 (10): 2916-22

BACKGROUND: In Germany, there is a lack of population-based data related to the use of gynaecological health care services. The objectives of our analyses utilizing a population-based cross-sectional survey conducted in one geographically defined area [Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP)] are to assess the prevalences of: (i) attendance of gynaecological outpatient facilities and of (cervical) cancer screening; (ii) gynaecological and breast surgery; (iii) use of oral contraceptives (OC) and menopausal hormone therapy (MHT).

METHODS: We analysed socio-demographic factors, reproductive history, gynaecological service utilization, and use of sex hormones in 2186 women aged 20-79 years. We used standard statistics and sex- and age group-specific weighting factors to reflect characteristics of the population of Western Pomerania.

RESULTS: Approximately 43% of women reported surgical procedures. Participation in cancer screening at least once was reported by 78% of women (lifetime prevalence). Two-thirds of women stated ever use of OC, 28% (aged >40 years) ever use of MHT.

CONCLUSIONS: Women in Western Pomerania reported a high life-time use of both OC and MHT. The use of cervical cancer screening exceeded the national average. Women had an almost 50% risk of undergoing gynaecological, breast or obstetric surgery. The high use of MHT and surgical procedures calls for efforts regarding continuing medical education and health care policy actions.

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