Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Reasons for Unprotected Sexual Intercourse

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The May issue of the journal Contraception includes an article about the reasons teens are participating in unprotected intercourse, which in the United States leads to the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies of all industrialized nations.

Data collected from more than 7,800 women who reported unintended pregnancies between 2000 and 2002 were used to identify reasons given by young women for having had unprotected intercourse. The results suggest that we are not doing a very good job educating young people about reproduction and their health! Of these young women, the most common reason for having had unprotected intercourse was that they had not thought about protection before the intercourse, and were therefore not prepared to protect themselves. In addition, 33% thought they could not get pregnant at the time of the intercourse, and 10% thought their partner was sterile.

I think the scariest thing was that although all of these young women were not planning on getting pregnant, 30% of them said that at the time, it would have been OK, and they would not have minded, if they were to get pregnant. This "whatever," devil-may-care attitude suggests that these young women had no goals, plans, or motivation to do something with their lives! I think it was Marian Wright Edelman who said "The best contraception is a future," and these young women seem to exemplify that reality.

These results suggest that for many young women, avoiding sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and unintended pregnancy is not even on their priority list. I suggests that parents, teachers and medical professionals need to be doing something else to help these young women set conscious goals for their futures.

Photo Credit: hugovk

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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