Why Have Teen Pregnancy Rates Decreased?

Teen pregnancy has gone down 40 percent since 1990. Researchers believe free access to IUDs will help to lower the percentage even more.

Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell


What’s the Latest Development?

According to reports, teen pregnancy has “reached a three-decade low, down 40 percent since 1990.” The significant drop has been accredited to better sex education programs, teenage girls opting to hold off having sex and the use of the birth control pill. However, researchers believe the number could come down even more with the use of IUDs. Based on a study conducted by researchers at Washington University, teenage girls who use IUDs have a lower risk of conceiving than teenagers who use birth control pills or any other contraception. “The pill is the most popular method, used by more than half of all women trying to avoid pregnancy. People believe it is highly reliable because it is over 99 percent effective when ‘used correctly’ in supervised drug trials.” Yet, “the risk of contraceptive failure was 22 times higher with the pill than with IUDs in adult women, and double that for teens.” When IUDs were available for free, it was the more popular choice, and now only a very small percentage of teens and women use IUDs. Despite this progress, “half of all American pregnancies, regardless of a woman’s age, are unplanned, leading to more than a million abortions annually.” Washington University lead researcher Jeff Peipert believes the abortion rate could be cut in half if IUDs were available for free.

What’s the Big Idea?

Researchers believe the use of IUDs among teenage girls could aid in a further decrease in teen pregnancy rates. Studies prove IUDs are more effective than the pill. If IUDs were available for free, more teens would use the form of contraceptive—lowering the number of teen pregnancy even more. “For decades, battles over reproductive health in teens have focused on sex ed in schools. But the decline in teen pregnancy since 1990 shows that the big changes occur only when we also treat reproductive health just like every other kind of medical science—by discarding problematic treatments and aggressively promoting effective ones.” Researchers also believe that making IUDs available again for free could potentially cut the abortion rate by half.  


​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less
Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

Keep reading Show less

Harvard: Men who can do 40 pushups have a 'significantly' lower risk of heart disease

Turns out pushups are more telling than treadmill tests when it comes to cardiovascular health.

Airman 1st Class Justin Baker completes another push-up during the First Sergeants' push-up a-thon June 28, 2011, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Participants were allowed 10 minutes to do as many push-ups as they could during the fundraiser. Airman Baker, a contract specialist assigned to the 354th Contracting Squadron, completed 278 push-ups. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Janine Thibault)
Surprising Science
  • Men who can perform 40 pushups in one minute are 96 percent less likely to have cardiovascular disease than those who do less than 10.
  • The Harvard study focused on over 1,100 firefighters with a median age of 39.
  • The exact results might not be applicable to men of other age groups or to women, researchers warn.
Keep reading Show less

U.S. reacts to New Zealand's gun ban

On Thursday, New Zealand moved to ban an array of semi-automatic guns and firearms components following a mass shooting that killed 50 people.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Gun control supporters are pointing to the ban as an example of swift, decisive action that the U.S. desperately needs.
  • Others note the inherent differences between the two nations, arguing that it is a good thing that it is relatively hard to pass such legislation in such a short timeframe.
  • The ban will surely shape future conversations about gun control in the U.S.
Keep reading Show less