The effects of pregnancy experience on contraceptive practice

J Youth Adolesc. 1997 Dec;26(6):763-78. doi: 10.1023/a:1022352810441.


PIP: This study examined changes in adolescent contraceptive use as a function of pregnancy experience and the passage of time. Data were obtained from a sample of 466 Black and White female adolescents, aged 13-19 years, who lived in Buffalo, New York, and were sexually active. 26% had never been pregnant nor had a pregnancy scare. 50% had a pregnancy scare, but no pregnancies. 24% had at least 1 unplanned pregnancy. Older females at last intercourse, were more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy or pregnancy scare. Years of sexual activity at last intercourse, were strongly related to pregnancy experience. Among Blacks, 25.7% were never pregnant, 43.7% had experienced a pregnancy scare, and 30.6% had ever been pregnant. Among Whites, 26.3% were never pregnant, 57.6% had a pregnancy scare, and 16.2% had ever been pregnant. Analyses of covariance findings suggest that having an unplanned pregnancy or pregnancy scare did not improve the subsequent contraceptive behavior for both Blacks and Whites. Better contraception between first and last intercourse was due to a greater lapse in time between first and last intercourse among ever vs. never pregnant females (3.3 vs. 2.0 years). Females with the poorest contraceptive behavior at first intercourse were the most likely to have an unplanned pregnancy and to continue to lag behind their no-scare and never pregnant counterparts at last intercourse. However, Blacks were significantly more likely to report using effective contraception at first intercourse and a greater percentage had an unplanned pregnancy. Future research should focus on distinguishing females who improve contraception after unplanned pregnancy from those who do not.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent*
  • African Americans*
  • Age Factors
  • Americas
  • Behavior
  • Contraception
  • Contraception Behavior*
  • Culture
  • Data Collection*
  • Demography
  • Developed Countries
  • Ethnic Groups
  • European Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Family Planning Services
  • Fertility
  • New York
  • North America
  • Population
  • Population Characteristics
  • Population Dynamics
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence*
  • Research
  • Retrospective Studies*
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Time Factors*
  • United States