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UK "Repeat" Abortion Rate for Teens Increases: What Does It Mean and What Can We Do?

Originally written for The Guardian, condensed version can be seen there.

In 2008, over 5,000 UK women under the age of 20 had an abortion that was not their first. As was made clear by the alarmist headlines following the publication of those numbers, this is a big concern for the public.

A woman’s reproductive life often spans 30+ years. Around 1/2 of all pregnancies in the US and UK are unplanned. Contraception isn’t used or used properly. It fails sometimes even in perfect use. Female fertility peaks between the ages of 19 and 24: the reason we tend to see the most abortions (and pregnancies) in that group is because it is the most fertile group having the most sex. (Piccinino, LJ, Mosher, WD. Trends in contraceptive method use in the United States: 1982-1994. 1998. Family Planning Perspectives. Vol. 30(1): 4-10 & 6, Table 1) The UK teen pregnancy rate is the highest in Western Europe: six times higher than the Netherlands, nearly three times higher than France and more than twice

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Why Childbirth Ed is Sex Ed

Sex leads to pregnancy leads to childbirth.

This, of course, is a huge oversimplification. It is possible to have lots of satisfying sex that doesn’t lead to pregnancy because a penis never goes into a vagina. It is possible to have chemical or mechanical problems of the reproductive system that make it impossible or unlikely for penis-in-vagina sex to produce pregnancy. People can also have penis-in-vagina sex while using any of a number of chemical, mechanical or physiological methods to prevent pregnancy (contraception).

But, penis-in-vagina sex has been until very recently in human history the only way to make more humans, and it is only recently that it has been as simple (and difficult) as taking a medicine to prevent pregnancy.

When pregnancy occurs as a result of sex, it may not necessarily lead to childbirth. Genetically abnormal embryos often spontaneously abort, and one pregnancy out of five will end spontaneously before halfway through the pregnancy (20 weeks). Many women

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We Want Your Texts!

(I know, George Michael jokes are probably lost on a lot of you, but I just couldn't help myself.)

We're excited to tell you that we've got a brand spankin' new way for you to get quick answers to your questions even when you're not near a computer. You can now text us! Hooray!

To ask Scarleteen a question via text, just text 66746 and start your question with the keyword ASKST.

We'll pick up the line as quickly as possible just like we do at the message boards to help you or your friends out fast. We can even go back and forth: if you have more questions after asking one (or we didn't answer you as well as you'd have liked), just respond with more and we can continue the conversation.

There is no additional fee for texting us: the cost is the same as whatever it costs you to text anyone else. Your privacy is also completely protected: we can't and won't ever see or get your name or your phone number. Our service will instead assign you a totally random user ID. Your answers will com

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Beyond the Birds and Bees

An online resource where readers can share stories of how information about sexuality was taught within the family of origin. Looks at the various methods folks have employed from the effective to the funny to the tragic.

What can I do to help him stop being so scared of pregnancy?

woah asks:

I have been with my boyfriend for almost 5 years now and we have even talked about getting married. We recently moved in together and to be honest we are as happy as two little beavers. Except for one thing, we haven’t had sex in over 2 years. It really isn’t a problem, we do other things (oral etc.) but we both would really like to go back to having sex. The problem with that is that my boyfriend is afraid I will get pregnant. Every time that we do anything sexually I have to take sometimes up to an hour with him reassuring him that I cant get pregnant from what we just did.

How can I give my sister a good sex education?

RespectIsSexy asks:

I am 17, and I have a 15 year old sister who is Autistic. I also come from an EXTREMELY Catholic family. I never got a sex talk - I straight-up asked my dad what sex meant when I was 9 or 10, and he gave me some very unhelpful answer about a gift that God intended to be shared between a man and a woman in marriage. I, however, had enough resources like gurl.com and, you know, friends with older sisters to eventually get the full picture. My sister does not.

Katie knows about menstruation and deals very well with it, but at last check she barely knew what her parts were and she does not appear to be receiving any meaningful sex education in school - that's my school district through and through. But Katie is physically mature, and I'd bet almost anything that she's experiencing age-appropriate sexual feelings.

The Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre’s Youth Website

This website provides information for survivors, as well as ways to contact local shelters, legal help, and counselors. Most of the information is for residents of the Ottawa, Ontario region, but there is also information for other Canadian provinces.

Like It Is

Sponsored by Marie Stopes International, likeitis.org gives young people access to information about all aspects of sex education and teenage life.

Marie Stopes International

The UK’s leading provider of sexual and reproductive healthcare services.

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