The truth about sex and pregnancy is that the best way to protect yourself from teen pregnancy and unwanted STIs is abstinence. But, for those of you that are engaging in sexual activity, condoms and use of proper contraception help to protect against unplanned pregnancy.
Below are some very useful facts to know about pregnancy, as well as the truth behind some of the common pregnancy myths that you may have heard.
Facts About Teen Pregnancy
- 3 in 10 American teen girls will get pregnant at least once before age 20. That's nearly 750,000 teen pregnancies every year.
- Parenthood is the leading reason that teen girls drop out of school. More than half of teen mothers never graduate from high school.
- Less than 2 percent of teen moms earn a college degree by age 30.
- About one-fourth of teen moms have a second child within 24 months of the first birth – which can further delay their ability to finish school or keep a job.
- The United States has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the Western industrialized world.
- From 1990 to 2008, the teen pregnancy rate decreased 42 percent (from 117 to 68 pregnancies per 1,000 teen girls).
- 8 out of 10 teen parents don't end up getting married to each other and children who live apart from their fathers are 5 times more likely to live under the poverty line than children with both parents at home.
It is also true that these absent fathers pay less than $800 annually for child support, often because they themselves can't afford legitimate support payments.
- A sexually active teen who doesn't use contraceptives has a 90 percent chance of becoming pregnant within a year.
- Almost 50 percent of teens have never considered how a pregnancy would affect their lives.
- Children of teen mothers tend to perform worse in school than those born to older parents – they are 50% more likely to repeat a grade, are less likely to complete high school than the children of older mothers, and have lower performance on standardized tests.
- Teens had fewer babies in 2010 than in any year since the mid-1940's.
- More than half of all mothers on welfare had their first child as a teenager. In fact, two-thirds of families begun by a young, unmarried mother are poor.
- The daughters of young teen mothers are 3 times more likely to become teen mothers themselves compared to those of non-teen mothers.
- The sons of teen mothers are twice as likely to end up in prison.
- You may think having a baby will make your relationship even stronger, but the fact is 8 out of 10 fathers don't marry the mother of their child.
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Myths & the Truth
Myth #1: Can I get pregnant if I'm a virgin and it's my first time having sex?
Yes. Your changes of becoming pregnant are always the same: 1 in 20.
Myth #2: Is there an age limit? Can someone be too young to get pregnant?
No. Once a woman is ovulating, she can become pregnant. This can happen even before your first period (since ovulation begins 14 days before your period).
Myth #3: What if the guy "pulls out" before he finishes?
Once a guy is aroused, he releases pre-ejaculation fluid. That's at least 300,000 sperm swimming upstream. And guess what? It only takes 1 sperm to fertilize an egg. Pulling out should not be the only form of birth control that you and your partner use.
Myth #4: Can I get pregnant if I'm on my period?
Absolutely. For those that have shorter cycles (or are irregular), you can ovulate during your period. Sperm can also live in the body for up to 5 days, so if you ovulate within 7 days of having unprotected sex, chances are you could become a mom.
Myth #5: Can I get pregnant if I'm having dry sex (the act of sexual motions while still wearing clothing)?
Any time the penis and vagina come into contact, there is the slight chance of pregnancy or STI transmission. All it takes is for seminal fluid to get inside the vagina.
Myth #6: Is it possible to get pregnant by having sex in the pool?
You can get pregnant in any kind of water – bath, hot tub, etc. (you get the idea) – if actual intercourse takes place.
Myth #7: Does sperm die once it hits the air?
This is 110% FALSE. Sperm can live for 3-5 days if it's in a warm, moist environment. It only dies once it's dry.
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Written By: Brigid Godfrey, teen writer
Reviewed By: Nancy Brown, Ph.D.
Last Reviewed: October 2013