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Contracept Rep. 1993 Nov;4(5):12.

Myths about oral contraceptives. Does OC availability result in increased sexual activity among teens?



Parents, educators, public health officials, health-care providers, religious organizations, and advocacy groups are very concerned about the rise in teenage pregnancy and the increase in sexually transmitted diseases among the young. Some say the increased availability and acceptance of oral contraceptives is directly related to an increase in sexual activity among teens. Less than 50% of women use a contraceptive method at first intercourse. Use is much lower in Hispanic and African-American women than among White women; women with low socioeconomic status, living in one-parent households, or having sex at an early age are the least likely to use a contraceptive method at first intercourse. According to the National Survey of Family Growth, teens engaging in sexual intercourse for the first time, who use a contraceptive method, typically choose the condom. Oral contraceptive use is very low and use at first intercourse has not increased over time. It is only after the establishment of routine sexual intercourse that the pill becomes the preferred method. The use of a condom has more than doubled for the period from 1982 to 1988. Adolescents under age 16 are at greatest risk for unintended pregnancies because this group is the least likely to use any method of contraception. The increase in teen sexual activity over the years does not coincide with an increase in pill use. Education must begin in elementary schools, stressing abstinence, but also include facts about sex, contraception, and disease prevention, because 40% of teens are sexually active by 9th grade. Skills can focus on changing behavior, such as learning to delay intercourse, building self-esteem as well as proper use of contraceptives. Easy, nonthreatening access to medical care can prevent many unintended pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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