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Teenage Glossary







Your Reproductive Health

During adolescence, young girls develop their adult identity, move toward physical and psychological maturity, and become economically independent. While adolescence generally is a healthy period of life, many adolescents often are less informed, less experienced, and less comfortable accessing family planning and reproductive health services than adults.

While access to reproductive health information and services is critical, this alone will not necessarily result in young people adopting safer sexual behaviors. Like adults, young people require motivation to make healthy decisions about their sexual behavior; adopting healthy sexual attitudes and behaviors cannot happen in a vacuum. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly clear that adolescent sexual and reproductive health is closely linked with educational and economic opportunities. Early marriage, adolescent pregnancy, abortion, and STIs often curtail adolescents' -- especially girls’ -- ability to obtain an education and learn skills that can help them develop livelihood options.

It is important to note, however, that many health experts acknowledge that sexual experience during adolescence in and of itself does not necessarily involve risk. If young couples use effective methods of protection against pregnancy and STIs, and if their decision to enter into a relationship is voluntary, physical and psychological risks are minimized. The concern is pressing, however -- especially for women -- when sexual relationships are involuntary or not sanctioned by law or custom and when contraceptive use is absent or inadequate. Programs recognizing that adolescents can engage in healthy, fulfilling sexual relationships, rather than focusing only on the negative outcomes, may go far in reaching young people with important information.

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