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J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2005 Oct;18(5):327-35.

Why lightning strikes twice: postpartum resumption of sexual activity during adolescence.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Division of Adolescent Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, The Children's Hospital, Denver, Colorado 80218, USA.



To describe the circumstances surrounding the postpartum resumption of sexual activity in a cohort of teenage mothers. The goal was to shed new light on the reasons why teenagers who have just given birth put themselves at risk for conception.


A racially and ethnically diverse group of 267 poor, predominantly unmarried, primiparous, 13-21 year olds was enrolled consecutively at delivery and followed through the third postpartum month. The primary outcome measure was weeks postpartum at resumption of sexual activity, further categorized as protected or unprotected. The analysis controlled for factors thought to influence the postpartum resumption of sexual activity among adult couples and the use of contraception during adolescence. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to estimate the time to end point and Cox proportional-hazards regression analysis to compute relevant relative risks (RR).


By the end of the third postpartum month, 58% of the teenagers had had sexual intercourse and the majority (80%) used contraception when they did so. The median time to first coitus, 10.7 weeks, was unrelated to contraceptive use but was significantly shorter among teenagers who lived with their boyfriends (RR: 2.4; 95%CI: 1.7-3.4) and those who delivered prior to term (RR: 2.1; 95%CI: 1.3-3.6). The analysis revealed that the teenagers who did not use contraception at first postpartum sexual intercourse exhibited more theorized risk factors for conception than those who did and those who remained sexually abstinent.


This new empirical evidence that coital activity resumes soon after delivery should dispel the normative belief that contraception is unnecessary during the puerperium. Early contraceptive vigilence may also decrease the frequency and rapidity with which teen mothers conceive, as the differences in the prevalence of teen pregnancy risk factors we uncovered suggest that decisions about using contraception (not sexual intercourse) determine the risk of rapid repeat conception. Teens with live-in boyfriends and premature babies are especially apt to benefit from the new information in this report as they resume sexual activity sooner than their peers and are less apt to use contraception when they do so.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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