Many Teen Girls Think They Cannot Get Pregnant

Are teen birth control messages reaching their intended audience? A new study of nearly 5,000 teen mothers suggests that proper use, or any use at all, of birth control is not being exercised.

About 2,500 of the new moms in the survey said they were not using any birth control when they became pregnant. These numbers were surprisingly higher than surveys of teens in general, which have found that less than 20 percent of contraception use during their most previous sexual encounter.

“I think what surprised us was the extent to which they were not using contraception,” Lorrie Gavin, a CDC senior scientist who co-authored the report, told the Associated Press (AP).

After interviewing teen mothers in 19 states, researchers concluded that about a third of them who didn´t use birth control said the reason was they didn´t believe they could get pregnant. Why they thought that isn´t clear Shari Roan of the LA Times reports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey didn´t ask teens to explain.

“This report underscores how much misperception, ambivalence and magical thinking put teens at risk for unintended pregnancy,” Bill Albert, a spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, told AP. “I think what surprised us was the extent to which they were not using contraception.”

CDC officials said they do not believe the birth control was faulty, they think the teens failed to use it correctly or consistently. Thirteen percent of those not using contraception said they failed to do so because they had trouble obtaining birth control pills, an IUD or condoms.

Almost 25 percent of the teen moms who did not use contraception said they didn´t because their partner pressured them not to. This suggests that sex education must include not only information about anatomy and birth control, but also about how to deal with situations in which a girl feels pressured to do something she doesn´t want to, Albert continued.

“The findings are sobering but it´s important to remember that the overall teen birth rate has been falling for some time, and recently hit its lowest mark in about 70 years.” Albert said it would be a mistake to come away from the report saying, “They can´t figure this out?” ℠´Most of them are figuring it out,” he said.

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