Issues Related to Sexual Behaviors in Adolescence

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  • 0:01 Adolescence
  • 0:57 Pregnancy
  • 3:18 STI
  • 5:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Adolescence is a time of great changes in a person's life, including many choices regarding sexual activity. Watch this lesson to find out about some of the issues that can come with being sexually active in adolescence.


Ben and Helen are high school sweethearts. They are in the first blush of love, and they like to kiss and make out. They both have hormones raging, and want to show their affection for each other physically, but they aren't sure what risks they might encounter if they decide to have intercourse.

Ben and Helen are in adolescence, which is the time of life between childhood and adulthood, which usually stretches between ages 13 and 20. As with Ben and Helen, many people in adolescence find that they have physical urges that they want to act on.

But what risks come with sexual behavior in adolescence? What should Ben and Helen (and teens like them) know? Let's look closer at two major risks associated with sexual behaviors, pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, and how they affect adolescents.


So, Ben and Helen are thinking about taking their relationship to the next level, beyond kissing. But Helen is scared that she might get pregnant. Teen pregnancy is a serious risk of having sexual intercourse. In fact, in 2011, over 300,000 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 gave birth.

But what's the big deal? So what if Helen does get pregnant? After all, she and Ben eventually want to get married and have kids, so if it happens, it's just happening a little early, right?

There are actually quite a few issues that can happen as a result of teen pregnancy. For one thing, pregnancy can put a damper on educational and life opportunities. For example, Helen currently plays softball. If she gets pregnant, she'll miss an entire season while she's carrying the baby.

Not only that, but if Helen and Ben decide to raise the baby, they might find it hard to finish high school and go on to college while still supporting and taking care of the baby. One or both of them might end up dropping out, which would put them in a position where they would be earning less money than if they were able to stay in school.

Even so, Helen thinks that it might be okay if she got pregnant. After all, it would cement her and Ben's relationship, and they would be able to raise a family together, just the way she wants them to. The problem is that many teen parent couples break up after having the baby. Though they intend to stay together, the stress of raising the baby (and the tendency of teen couples to break up as they grow up) ends with the couple not together, despite their good intentions.

So, how can Ben and Helen, and other teens like them, avoid teen pregnancy? While the best way to avoid getting pregnant is to not have sexual intercourse, abstinence-only educational programs do not seem to work to deter pregnancy.

If Ben and Helen do end up having intercourse, they should use a contraceptive, like the birth control pill or a condom. Studies have shown that sex education courses that teach students, like Ben and Helen, that abstinence is best but that contraceptives should be used in the case of sex, are better at lowering the rate of teen pregnancy than sex education courses that teach abstinence only.

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