Reasons for Teen Pregnancies

There are many reasons for teen pregnancies. Read this article to learn about some of the issues teenagers face relating to sex, dating, and pregnancy. Get ideas on how to educate and help prevent early pregnancy in adolescents by learning the reasons for teen pregnancies.

Teen pregnancy has serious consequences for teens, their children, and for society, so it may seem strange that so many teens still make choices that lead to teen pregnancy. There are many reasons for teen pregnancies. Some teen pregnancies are unplanned, the result of teens having unprotected sex. In other cases, teens choose to try to get pregnant. The reasons behind the choices that lead to teen pregnancy are diverse, but may have similar root issues that can be addressed before an at-risk teen gets pregnant.

Risk factors for sexual activity teens and teen pregnancy include:

  • Dating at a young age. Teens who begin dating at age 12 have a 91 percent chance of being sexually active as teens, and teens who begin dating at 13 have a 56 percent chance of teen sexual activity.
  • Lack of self-discipline, which is required to reach goals, delay gratification, and make choices like waiting to have sex or using a condom
  • Using alcohol, drugs, or tobacco
  • Dropping out of school, or not having a commitment to education
  • Having little social support, such as caring family or friends
  • Not feeling involved with family, school, or community
  • Feeling like they have no opportunities, or not recognizing their own potential
  • Being in an environment where teen pregnancy is common
  • Living in poverty
  • Being a victim of sexual abuse
  • Being the child of a teen mother
  • Suffering from depression or other mental health problems
  • Lack of positive role models in their family or their life

Being involved in dating or sexual activity at a young age is a major risk factor for unprotected sex and the potential pregnancies and STDs that go with that choice. The younger a teen is when he or she first has sex the more likely he or she is to have unprotected sex resulting in a pregnancy or STD.

Some reasons teens may have sex at a young age are:

  • Pressure from an older boy or girlfriend to have sex
  • The media conveys the idea that teen sex is common and acceptable
  • Teens often do not get good information about sex, relationships, and values from reliable sources, such as parents
  • For girls, a belief that having sex will give them emotional intimacy
  • For boys, a belief that having sex will give them higher social status

Teens who feel pressured to have sex because “everyone is doing it” should know that more than half of teens wait until they are older to have sex.

Some teens want to get pregnant

Many of these teens girls come from lower income groups and don’t expect much from their future. Many also have boyfriends 5 or more years older than themselves. Their reasons for wanting a baby may vary, but often include:

  • They think it will keep their boyfriend from leaving them, though most teen mothers do end up being single.
  • They think the idea of having a baby is romantic.
  • They believe being a mother will give them a sense of fulfillment.
  • They don’t see any better options for their future than getting pregnant and dropping out of school, or having a baby seems like an alternative to finishing school as a mom.

Why teens have unprotected sex

Many unplanned teen pregnancies are the result of unprotected sex. 90 percent of teens having unprotected sex will get pregnant within a year. Teens may have unprotected sex for several reasons:

  • They feel like pregnancy and STDs are things that only happen to other people, though each year nearly 1 million teen girls get pregnant and nearly 10 million teen boys and girls get STDs from unprotected sex.
  • One or both teens used drugs or alcohol before sex.
  • They are not emotionally mature enough to make good choices about sex, or don’t have enough self-discipline to wait.
  • They don’t know the risks of unprotected sex.
  • They don’t know where to get condoms, or think they are too expensive.
  • They feel pressured by their partner to have unprotected sex, though a caring partner will never pressure a teen to do anything that they feel uncomfortable with or that is dangerous like having unprotected sex.

The choices teens make that lead to pregnancy can have many causes, but helping teens to feel that they have value and opportunities, and teaching them to make goals and exercise self-discipline can be an important factor in helping teens to make wiser choices. Parents can play a major role by educating their teens about their values and the possible consequences of teen sex and unprotected sex, and by helping teens to feel involved and cared about.


U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia, Adolescent Pregnancy [online]

Center for Disease Control: Healthy Youth! Sexual Risk Behaviors [online]

Center for Disease Control: Adolescent Reproductive Health [online]

AllRefer Health, “Adolescent Pregnancy” [online]

Lisa Habib, WebMD Medical News, “Why Do Young Teens Have Sex?” June 14, 2006 [online]

Salynn Boyles, WebMD Medical News, “Many Teens Want to Have Babies” July 23, 2004 [online]

National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, “What Teens Want Other Teens to Know About Preventing Teen Pregnancy” [online]

Related Article: Sexually Active Teens >>