CDC Finds 1/3 of Teen Mothers Didn’t Think They Could Get Pregnant

January 19, 2012  |  

In a survey of nearly 5,000 teenage girls in 19 states who had unplanned pregnancies between 2004 through 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about one-third of the girls didn’t use birth control because they didn’t believe they could get pregnant.

The CDC didn’t ask these teens to explain why they didn’t think they could get pregnant but the finding is certainly a slap in the face of sex education programs. Some common reasons teens give for why they didn’t think they could get pregnant is that it was their first time, they were menstruating, or they thought they were sterile.

Nearly half of the girls in the survey said they weren’t using any birth control when they got pregnant which is higher than surveys of teens in general. Typically, fewer than 20% say they didn’t use contraception the last time they had sex.

Access to birth control wasn’t a huge deterrent, only 13% of the girls said they didn’t use birth control because they had trouble getting it. Nearly 25% said they didn’t use protection because their partner didn’t want them to. Researchers say this fact illustrates the need for sex education classes to also share solutions for girls who feel pressured into doing something they don’t want to do.

Because the teen birth rate is at its lowest point in 70 years, Bill Albert, a spokesman for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, says  it would be a mistake to come away from the report thinking, “They can’t figure this out?” He said”most of them are figuring it out,” but are they figuring it out fast enough?

Why do you think these same myths about the inability to get pregnant still follow teens?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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