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The Truth About Teen Sex

Despite What Many Believe, Sexually Active Teenagers Often Make Good Choices

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Though teen sex can have bad outcomes, new research shows that many sexually active teens are not damaged by the experience.

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The Truth About Teen Sex

Teens are often told that STDs, pregnancy, heartbreak, depression, academic failure and substance use are the likely outcomes of becoming sexually active. Though it is true that in some cases, these things do happen, they don't in others, and we rarely hear about those.

More and more studies are actually finding that teen sex is not automatically a dangerous experience. Here are a few recent examples.

  1. A new study out of the University of Austin found that sexually active teens who are in committed relationships show lower levels of antisocial behavior compared to teenagers who are not having sex at all! Why is this? Paige Harden, one of the study's researchers explained that a possible reason is that teens in serious relationships spend more time with their partners and less time misbehaving!

  2. In an earlier study, Harden also found that teens who had sex early fared just as well, if not better, than those who waited longer! As she said, "There is a cultural assumption in the United States that if teens have sex early it is somehow bad for their psychological health...But we actually found that teens who had sex earlier seem to have better relationships later."

  3. Another study, this one conducted in 2010 by researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine, looked at why sexually active teen girls who subsequently chose abstinence (often after an STD diagnosis) later returned to being sexually active. What it found was that teen girls aren't always driven to have sex out of depression or rebellion. In fact, the unifying factor behind the decision to resume having sex was that the girls were happy and in secure relationships.

The Real Risks of Teen Sex

There are some very valid concerns regarding teens and sex, including teen pregnancies and STDs. There are also some very troubling concerns specifically affecting GLBT teens. For example, young men who have sex with men continue to contract HIV at disturbing levels, and almost counterintuitively, a Canadian study found that lesbian teens are at a high risk of getting pregnant and that gay teens are at high risk of causing a pregnancy.

So is it always wise for a teen to become sexually active? Of course, not. But as often ignored research shows, it sure isn't always a disaster either!

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