For adolescents who are sexually active, using effective contraceptives (such as condoms, birth control pills, the patch, the vaginal ring, the intrauterine device or IUD, and/or injectable birth control methods) every time they have sexual intercourse will reduce chances of unwanted pregnancy.
For adolescents who are sexually active, using effective contraceptives (such as condoms, birth control pills, the patch, the vaginal ring, the intrauterine device or IUD, and/or injectable birth control methods) every time they have sexual intercourse will reduce chances of unwanted pregnancy. However, adolescents who choose to be abstinent are also in a better position to prevent pregnancy because they are not having sexual intercourse and therefore do not need contraception be actively used.
Using effective contraceptives (such as condoms, birth control pills, the patch, the vaginal ring, the intrauterine device or IUD) every time they have sexual intercourse will reduce chances of unwanted pregnancy.
Causes of Teenage Pregnancy
Teenage pregnancy is pregnancy in a woman 19 years of age or younger. A woman can get pregnant if she has vaginal sex with a man at any age after she’s begun having regular monthly periods.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, in 2017, around 194,000 babies were born to American girls between the ages of 15 to 19.
While the number of teenage pregnancies in the United States has been in decline, it still remains higher than in other industrialized countries.
You’ll probably first realize you’re pregnant when you skip a regular period. But if you get a very light period around the time you expect it, don’t assume you’re not pregnant. It’s possible to have very light bleeding in the first few weeks of pregnancy.
Signs of pregnancy include:
- missed or very light period
- breast tenderness
- nausea, often in the morning
- feeling lightheaded
- weight gain
- feeling tired
- swelling abdomen
Pregnancy Symptoms: 10 Early Signs That You May Be Pregnant
Think you might be pregnant? Watch this video to find out the most common early pregnancy signs.
0 seconds of 1 minute, 26 secondsVolume 0%
Teens are at a higher risk for pregnancy-related high blood pressure (preeclampsia) and its complications than average age mothers. Risks for the baby include premature birth and low birth weight. Preeclampsia can also harm the kidneys or even be fatal for mother or baby.
Pregnant teens also have a higher chance of becoming anemic. Anemia is a reduction in the number of red blood cells (RBCs). This can make you feel weak and tired and can affect your baby’s development.
Giving birth in the United States is safer than ever, but it’s still more dangerous for a teen than for a woman 20 or older. According to the World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted SourceTrusted Source, complications during pregnancy or childbirth are the leading cause of death globally for girls ages 15 to 19.
If you get pregnant as a teen, you might feel frightened and worried about telling your family and friends. Not talking to someone and not getting the help and support you need, can make you feel more isolated and depressed. This can lead to problems in home and at school.
Many pregnant teens drop out of school, and some never complete their education. That means a lot of mothers who get pregnant as teenagers live in poverty.
Women who first got pregnant as teens are more likely to have more than one child. About one in fiveTrusted SourceTrusted Source births to a teen mother is a repeat birth. A woman with little education and multiple children to care for will find it very difficult to earn a living.
A healthy pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. A baby that’s delivered before 37 weeks of pregnancy is
Sometimes, these babies lack complete development in their bodies and brains. Depending on how premature the baby is, this can lead to lifelong difficulties with health and development.
Premature babies also tend to be underweight. Underweight babies might have trouble breathing and feeding as infants. As adults, underweight babies are more susceptible to diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
In addition to having an increased risk of being underweight, infants born to teenage mothers are also at a higher risk of infant mortality.
Fathering a child as a teenager can be a frightening and life-changing event. Teen fathers don’t have to worry about the health implications of pregnancy and childbirth, but they could face similar difficulties staying in school and earning a living.
State laws vary on the legal age for people to have sexual intercourse.
Arrest or legal action against teens who are sexually active can have devastating effects. A young man may be required to register as a sex offender if he has reached the legal age (age 18 in some states) and his partner has not (age 17 or under).
Most supermarkets and drugstores sell home pregnancy tests. These tests are designed to detect pregnancy hormones in your urine. They’re most accurate if you use them more than a week after your missed period.
If a home pregnancy test indicates you’re not pregnant, wait a week, and take another test to make sure.
Teens who become pregnant may be afraid to see a doctor, but it’s extremely important for the safety of the mother and the unborn child.
Your doctor should discuss all options with you regarding your pregnancy, including:
- abortion, or ending the pregnancy medically
- adoption, or giving birth and legally permitting someone else to raise your child
- giving birth and raising the child yourself
Ideally, the future father and family members of both mother and father will be involved in making the best decisions. However, this isn’t always possible.
Birth control clinics and public health offices can provide counseling information to help you make the right choices for you and your baby.
Teen moms can have healthy babies. Make sure you see your doctor as soon as you know you’re pregnant, and attend all your scheduled appointments.
Proper obstetrical care throughout your pregnancy is so important to the health and well-being of both the mother and the baby. Eat well, exercise, and confide in supportive friends and family members.
Cigarette smoking during pregnancy has been shown to lower birth weight and cause babies to be born prematurely. You shouldn’t smoke during pregnancy.
Drugs and alcohol can have very damaging effects on a mother and her unborn child. Don’t drink alcohol or use illicit drugs during pregnancy. If you think you might be addicted to drugs or alcohol, ask your doctor about counseling and treatment programs to help you quit.
Only take the medicines your doctor prescribes. Make sure your doctor knows about any over-the-counter (OTC) medicines you are taking.
It’s important for all pregnant women to get proper medical care regardless of how old they are. But because teens’ bodies are still developing, seeing a doctor regularly is especially important for teen mothers.
You’ll see a lot of your doctor during your pregnancy.
During the first six months, you’ll probably have an appointment at least once every month. In the last months of your pregnancy, you may see your doctor every other week, ending with weekly visits in your final month. These visits are to make sure you and your baby are healthy.
Your doctor will ask how you’re feeling and if you have any questions. They’ll usually then explain what you can expect during the upcoming weeks of your pregnancy.
It’s a good idea to write down any questions or concerns you have so that you can remember to ask them during your appointment. Make sure you talk to your doctor about your health, the baby’s health, and any emotional or family concerns you have.
Causes of Teenage Pregnancy And Solution
Teen pregnancy poses health risks for teen mothers and their babies and adversely impacts their families and society. Read the post to know about the ways of teen pregnancy prevention.
In the US, 10% of females between the ages 15 and 19 conceive every year. These pregnancies are mostly unplanned and occur outside marriage. However, since 1991, the teen pregnancy rate has fallen by 25% (1).
Teen pregnancies are a global problem. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), they usually occur in poor communities lacking education and employment. They are also an outcome of child marriage, limited knowledge of contraception, inability to get contraceptives, and sexual violence (2).
12 Ways To Prevent Teen Pregnancy
1. Educate about sexuality
Teenagers may lack sexual education and be unaware of preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). They may also indulge in unprotected sexual activity due to peer pressure (3).
How to help:
- Provide sex education to adolescents.
- Support youth development programs among adolescents to talk openly about their feelings and experiences related to sexuality.
- Educate them on topics, such as HIV, STDs, and contraception.
- Bring families and communities together to address topics on sexuality without any socio-cultural resistance (3).
- Talk about the health risks of unprotected sex and teenage pregnancies (1).
2. Increase the use of contraceptives
According to WHO studies conducted in China, India, Kenya, Thailand, and other countries, adopting effective contraceptive methods (condoms, hormonal and emergency contraceptives) can help prevent teenage pregnancies. However, most adolescents are either unable to buy contraceptives or are unaware of the ways to use them (3).
How to help:
- Spread awareness in the field of effective contraceptive usage.
- Shed social stigma and educate youth on contraception.
- The American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Medical Association suggest physicians and healthcare providers offer guidance about contraceptives and sexual behavior (1).
3. Reduce forced sex
Gender norms can result in forced sex of girls as per studies conducted in countries, including Botswana, Kenya, and India (3).
How to help:
- Empower girls by offering them support and protection.
- Create effective strategies that teach life skills, build self-esteem, and improve social networks.
- Make efforts to change social norms and attitudes towards forced sex and sexual violence prevailing in society (3).
4. Prevent early marriage
Around 14% of girls in developing countries, such as Afghanistan, India, Kenya, and Nepal, are married before 15. Early marriage leads to early pregnancy and poor reproductive health. Girls who are married early also face poverty and under-education, affecting their families’ futures (3).
How to help:
- Send girls to school, so they are less likely to get married early. Education helps them take care of their families in a better way and positively impact society (3).
- Encourage teenagers to focus on their career goals and stay away from distractions (4).
5. Monitor the influence of media
In the US, one in three television programs emphasizes sexual behavior. Research shows that watching television programs depicting sexual behavior causes teens to indulge in non-marital sexual activity from an early age (5).
How to help:
- Monitor the type of content children watch, read, or listen.
- Discuss what they are learning from these programs (4).
- In developed countries, including France, the Netherlands, and Germany, teenage pregnancies are much lower than in the US because they promote low-risk sexual activities through national media campaigns (5).
6. Counsel male adolescents
Male teenagers experience sexual activity before female teenagers, and they tend to have more partners, yet they exhibit fewer reproductive concerns. Most health clinics and adolescent pregnancy prevention programs focus on girls rather than boys (1).
How to help:
- Teen pregnancy can be effectively addressed when educational programs focus on boys and girls.
- Inform male adolescents about sexual health, risky behaviors, and STIs.
- Encourage adolescent boys to use condoms to prevent pregnancies and diseases. Educate them about other methods of contraception and postcoital contraception.
- Help teenage boys understand their responsibilities as a partner (1).
7. Provide career counseling
Many girls marry early because of their poor economic conditions. Therefore, programs that focus on career counseling can encourage them to study and support their families rather than marry early (6).
How to help:
- Counsel girls from weaker financial backgrounds about educational and employment opportunities.
- In India (close to Delhi), recruiters held three annual sessions for young women in 80 villages and informed them about employment opportunities and strategies for applying for jobs. These sessions helped 76 to 81% of women enroll for a diploma and delay marriage and pregnancy (6) (7).
8. Abstinence education
Abstinence is the choice to not indulge in sexual intercourse to help prevent pregnancies. Most teenagers decide to delay having sex until they are older. This is a responsible decision, and youth must adhere to it without being influenced by peer pressure (8).
How to help:
- Encourage youth to stay away from drug and alcohol abuse.
- Help teens choose friends and partners who respect their decision of abstinence (8).
- The Michigan Abstinence Program aims to improve teen health by abstaining from sexual activity or other risky behaviors, such as using drugs, alcohol, or tobacco (9).
9. Insurance for contraception
Teenagers may not use contraceptive methods because they cannot afford them. Most private insurance plans do not offer coverage for contraception.
How to help:
- Contraception should be easily accessible to teenagers.
- Teen pregnancy rates are relatively lower in the Netherlands, Germany, and France, where contraceptive pills and devices are covered under insurance (5).
10. Promote gender equality
Gender ideologies influence how young men and women behave and decide about contraception. According to social beliefs, young women are often discouraged from being open about any sexual activity; however, young men are encouraged to do the opposite. The same ideologies come forward when it comes to the use of contraception. These gender gaps often suppress women’s desires and views, leading to increased teenage pregnancies (10).
How to help:
- Change the social norms that create a difference between genders.
- Promote gender equality to encourage a rise in contraceptive usage.
- Empower women to voice their opinions (10).
11. Develop a good relationship with children
A good parent-child relationship can make children happy and confident. They will understand their responsibilities and social values.
How to help:
- Pay attention to what your children share.
- Be kind, courteous, and respectful to them.
- Support your children and appreciate their endeavors.
- Boost their self-esteem and help them grow confident (4).
12. Monitor activities
Know if your children are safe and what they are doing most of the time. As a parent, your responsibility is to monitor their activities closely.
How to help:
- Get acquainted with children’s friends and their families.
- Talk to their friends regularly to find the values they uphold.
- Stay updated about the activities of your children.
- Raise immediate concern if you find something worrying (4).
Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs
Governments across the world also take initiatives to control teenage pregnancy through different programs. Some effective programs are:
- Taking Pride in Prevention (TPIP): This Michigan program educates and encourages youth about abstinence and contraception to prevent teen pregnancies and STDs. It targets youth between the ages of 12 and 19 to reduce the rate of teen pregnancy (9).
- Development Initiative Supporting Healthy Adolescents (DISHA): This program is an Indian initiative that provides health services to individuals and teaches adolescents about sex education, contraception, finance, future employment, and life skills (11).
- Carrera/Children’s Home Society Program: This US-based program started in 1984 provides adolescents with services about health, work, lifestyle, sexuality, and education. It started as an after-school program for youth aged between 13 and 15 and above (11).
- Zomba Cash Transfer Programme: This Malawi program provides US$10 and school fees to girls and recent dropouts for joining school again.