With sexual activity comes risk–the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection and the risk of pregnancy. According to the Gutmacher Institute, almost 750,000 young women aged 15–19 become pregnant each year. Of those pregnancies, about 59% result in live births. About 27% end in abortion, and the remaining 14% end in miscarriage.
The pregnancy rate among teens in the U.S. has been on the decline in recent years. In part this is due to more consistent use of contraceptives, including condoms and other birth control methods, among teens. Yet a recent survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that only 61.5% of sexually active teens reported using condoms the last time they had sex, and only 16% reported using birth control pills before sexual intercourse. 1 in 5 babies born to teen mothers is a repeat birth (meaning the mother has had two or more babies). This puts a great deal of stress on the young mother, who is already coping with all the issues that go along with being a teen.
While many teen pregnancies are unplanned (as are many pregnancies for older women–about 50% of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned), other young women make a conscious choice to become moms. In either case, facing a pregnancy and the prospect of parenthood is a life-changing experience. Especially if the pregnancy is unplanned, it is typical to feel emotionally confused and worried about what to do, especially when you’re young yourself.
If you find yourself facing an unplanned pregnancy, you will need time and space to think about what lies ahead. While you may have questions of your own about pregnancy and parenthood, there are also questions that only you can answer–questions you need to ask yourself as you try to make important decisions about what lies ahead.
- Do I want to have a baby? Am I ready to be a parent to raise a child?
- How much family support will I have, both emotionally and financially?
- What are my goals and dreams? How will these be impacted by my decisions?
- How will my partner be involved?
- How will I feel about this decision years from now? Can I live with the decisons I am making? Do they feel right and fit with my values and beliefs?
- What kind of support system do I have? Who will be there to help me emotionally, physically and financially?
There are just a few questions you might want to ask yourself. But while this decision is yours to make, it’s a good idea to find support from others as well. You can talk to a parent or other trusted adult–maybe a relative, teacher, or counselor–to get information and advice. If you have a regular healthcare provider, he or she can help you understand your options, or you can search for a local family planning clinic by entering your zip code in the box below.
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You can learn more about your options on this website to help you make an informed decision that’s right for you. Another useful resource is the Pregnancy Options Workbooks, provided by PregnancyOptions.info, which contains information about abortion, adoption and parenthood, with exericses to help you make the best decision for you.