Lara Rostomian, an integrative biology student at the University of California in Berkeley will be spending this summer in Armenia to research family planning options there and to study the locals’ knowledge and attitudes into the myriad options for reproductive health.
Rostomian is the latest recipient of the university’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship and will conduct her research with a grant from the Pergo Fund.
“When looking into the topic of family planning in Armenia, I was disappointed to see the limited and outdated literature available. This data, nearly two decades old, indicated high abortion rates coupled with low modern contraceptive prevalence,” said Rostomian.
“Making this discovery ignited my interest in conducting survey-based research to assess Armenian women’s knowledge and attitudes toward modern contraception; explore the barriers these women face in seeking contraception; and ultimately uncover why women in Armenia seem to use abortion as their main method of family planning,” she added.
“Studying women’s sexual and reproductive health in Armenia is important because social stigma surrounding this issue may not only hinder women from gaining access to modern contraception, but also to education regarding their options,” explained Rostomian, who added that the lack of updated or current materials on the topic has prompted her to analyze how and if women’s attitudes have shifted in the past 20 years, specifically following Armenia’s social and political revolution of 2018.
Rostomian’s research and findings may become a stepping stone for Armenia to advance its reproductive health approaches and provide women with family planning options that are safer, less intrusive and promote a healthier lifestyle.
“I am thankful to have embarked on this journey so early into my research career and am hopeful to continue conduct similar global health research in understudied areas of the world such as Armenia,” said Rostomian.