Teenagers have a high unintended pregnancy rate, in part because of inconsistent use or nonuse of contraceptives. It is important to determine how partner and relationship characteristics are related to contraceptive use and consistency within adolescents’ first sexual relationships.
Logistic and multinomial logistic regression analyses of data from 1,027 participants in the first two waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health examined the influence of relationship and partner characteristics on ever-use and consistent use of contraceptive methods during teenagers’ first sexual relationships.
Teenagers who had waited a longer time between the start of a relationship and first sex with that partner, discussed contraception before first having sex or used dual contraceptive methods had significantly increased odds of ever or always using contraceptives. Adolescents who had taken a virginity pledge, had an older partner, had a greater number of close friends who knew their first partner, or reported having a relationship that was not romantic but that involved holding hands, kissing and telling their partners they liked or loved them had decreased odds of contraceptive use or consistency. As relationship length increased, teenagers were more likely to ever have used a method, but less likely to always have used a method.
Parents and programs should encourage teenagers to delay sexual intercourse, discuss contraception with partners before initiating sex and be vigilant about contraceptive use, particularly in long-term sexual relationships and in relationships with older partners.