Teenage pregnancy is a socially, economically, physically and emotionally complex issue. StayTeen.org reports that three out of 10 teen girls in the U.S. find themselves pregnant at least once before age 20. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy relays that approximately 47.8 percent of all high school students report having sexual intercourse. With serious consequences at stake, ways of preventing teen pregnancy should be a high priority.
Abstinence from sex (oral, anal or vaginal) is the only behavior that is 100 percent effective at preventing teenage pregnancy. In fact, the National Campaign stresses that abstinence from sex is the best choice for teens as it avoids early pregnancy, parenthood and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Planned Parenthood reminds teens that remaining abstinent is a behavior choice and it can be difficult for some people.
Besides abstinence, using contraception during sexual intercourse can also prevent teenage pregnancy. Whether using barrier or hormonal methods, contraception can help to avoid pregnancy. StayTeen.org reports that one-third of teenage girls did not use any form of contraception the last time they had sex and 52 percent of sexually active teens reported a primary reason for not using contraceptives is because their partners did not want to. Educating teens about contraceptive methods may help to change attitudes and behaviors toward safer sex practices.
Preventing teenage pregnancy may also come down to overcoming parent-child communication barriers. The National Campaign reports that teens say their parents influence their decisions about sex, love and relationships the most; even more than the media or their peers. Starting a conversation about sex early and often may prove beneficial. This conversation should ideally begin well before a child's teen years. In fact, the National Campaign encourages parents to talk early and become"askable" parents (let kids know that they can ask you anything). Remember, this is ideally an 18-year conversation, not just one talk.