Contraceptive use and pregnancies in adolescents' romantic relationships: role of relationship activities and parental attitudes and communication

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2015 Feb-Mar;36(2):86-97. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000125.


Objective: In a unified framework, the authors estimate whether romantic relationship activities and parental attitudes predict contraception use and consistency, and whether contraception use and consistency predict pregnancy risk among male and females adolescents in the United States.

Methods: Data on 3717 participants of the first 2 waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) who were sexually experienced in their recent romantic relationship were analyzed to examine how presex activities in the romantic relationship and parental attitudes and communication are associated with contraception choices and how contraception choices are associated with pregnancies.

Results: In multivariate logistic regression analysis, only some relationship activities and parental communication about contraception were significant predictors of contraception, and their influence differed by gender. Going out with the partner increased contraception consistency among males (odds ratio, 2.04). Discussing contraception with the partner before having first sex increased the odds of ever using contraception for both genders (2.61 for females and 1.59 for males) and increased the odds of consistent contraception for females (1.505). Discussing contraception with parent increased the odds of consistent contraception among females (1.383). Merely, using contraception was not a significant predictor of the risk of pregnancy, whereas using contraception consistently significantly reduced the odds of getting partner pregnant for males (0.413) and the odds of pregnancy of females (0.343).

Conclusion: Contraception and pregnancy education programs should take into account qualities of romantic relationship and emphasize consistent use of contraception and communication about contraception between partners and with parents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Communication
  • Contraception Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / prevention & control*
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • United States