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Many Teen Boys View Pregnancy as Inevitable

Sexually Active Boys May Not Plan on Pregnancy but Think It's Likely
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WebMD Health News

Sept. 6, 2005 -- More than half of sexually active teenage boys don't plan on getting someone pregnant but believe it's likely to happen anyway.

A new study shows that 75% of sexually active teenage boys said they had no plans for pregnancy, but 56% said there was at least some chance they might get someone pregnant.

Researchers say the results suggest that teen boys' intentions and beliefs about pregnancy may differ and should be addressed by sexual health counselors.

"Clearly, if you ask a teenage boy if he plans on pregnancy, he will probably say no," says researcher Cynthia Rosengard, PhD, of Rhode Island Hospital, in a news release. "But just because he doesn't plan to get someone pregnant, that doesn't mean he won't. In order to address teenage pregnancy, we need to ask the questions in different ways."

Intentions vs. Beliefs

In the study, published in the September issue of Pediatrics, researchers surveyed 101 boys aged 15 to 19 who were treated at a sexually transmitted disease clinic in Northern California.

The results show that the boys' intentions about getting someone pregnant were often in conflict with their beliefs about the likelihood of pregnancy occurring.

Researchers say the study suggests that boys who have inconsistent views on pregnancy may not want to get someone pregnant, but they may lack the motivation to avoid pregnancy.

Inside the Teen Boy's Mind

In addition, the results showed that the boys' attitudes about pregnancy were linked to their mother's educational status and beliefs about pregnancy.

For example, boys who said they intended to get someone pregnant or thought it was likely to occur had mothers with lower educational levels and less negative attitudes about pregnancy. These boys were also less likely to use condoms or other forms of birth control.

Researchers also found that some boys are worried that their partner may not trust them if they use condoms and suspect that they are unfaithful.

But by better understanding boys' attitudes and intentions about pregnancy, researchers say sexual health counselors may be able to provide better advice about condom use and prevent unintended pregnancies.

"The difference is that boys often determine, by their views about condoms and pregnancy, whether the girl will get pregnant," says Rosengard.

"If the male partner has negative views about pregnancy, he is more likely to use condoms. Likewise, if he believes that using condoms erodes trust in a relationship, he is less likely to use them, and potentially more likely to cause a pregnancy."

"If you find out what their intentions are, you may be able to prevent them from causing a pregnancy," says Rosengard.

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