There is a direct link between marital relationships and physical health. It has been seen over the years now and proven in many scholarly articles that a healthy, happy marriage between a couple will lead to positive physical health outcomes.
Commonly, early marriages (marriage before the age of 18) are seen in developing countries and child brides can face serious, life threatening issues such as obstetric complications during childbirth, cervical cancer, unplanned pregnancy and often malnutrition in offspring.
Young girls who are married at an early age can also face psychiatric issues such as depression and stress related disorders. This is usually because they have responsibilities thrust upon them at a very early age which at most times they are unable to cope with.
Studies have also shown that young girls who are married at an early age are exposed to recurrent childbirths, unplanned pregnancies and abortions that in turn are detrimental to their health and nutritional status. As a result, babies born to mothers who have a poor nutritional status are at risk of low birth weight and stunting and wasting later on.
Early marriage and sexual and reproductive health risks
Contraception: There is a need to educate women with regards to contraception to delay first pregnancy if they are married at an early age.
If pregnancy does occur, awareness and education regarding proper and regular antenatal care which will prevent obstetric complications should be encouraged.
Any high risk pregnancy can be referred to an obstetrician so that delivery can take place at a hospital and not at home
Educate girls about protective behavior and safe sex practices (barrier methods of contraception) which will protect them from sexually transmitted disease such as HIV and other STDs (Sexually transmitted diseases), and will help delay pregnancy
Awareness about the concept of pre-marital HIV testing for any person suspected to be high-risk for HIV
Educate about options available to them with regards to their health: for example, calling MSS hotline for information on contraception, pre-natal care and abortion or post-abortion care.
Many young females may have their first pregnancy in their teens and thus face a much higher risk of maternal morbidity and mortality than older mothers.
Most importantly, marriage at a young age, when a girl is neither physically nor emotionally mature, can undermine her ability to make informed, appropriate and healthy decisions about her life.