WHY are boys behaving more “like girls” in terms of when they lose their virginity? In contrast to longstanding cultural tropes, there is reason to believe that teenage boys are becoming more careful and more romantic about their first sexual experiences.

Anyone reading the headlines in recent weeks has come away with an unsettling message: Sexual predators seem to lurk everywhere.

We all need human contact. Here's why banning it for kids is a bad idea

Labels inside every box of morning-after pills, drugs widely used to prevent pregnancy after sex, say they may work by blocking fertilized eggs from implanting in a woman’s uterus. Respected medical authorities, including the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic, have said the same thing on their Web sites.

EVERYONE is good, until we’re tested.
We hope we would be Sir Thomas More in “A Man for All Seasons,” who dismisses his daughter’s pleas to compromise his ideals and save his life, saying: “When a man takes an oath, Meg, he’s holding his own self in his own hands. Like water. And if he opens his fingers then, he needn’t hope to find himself again.”

In the 12 years since Melinda Gates and her husband, Bill, created the Gates Foundation, the world’s largest philanthropic organization, she has done a lot of traveling. A reserved woman who has long been wary of the public glare attached to the Gates name, she comes alive, her associates say, when she’s visiting the foundation’s projects in remote corners of the world. “You get her out in the field with a group of women, sitting on a mat or under a tree or in a hut, she is totally in her element, totally comfortable,” says Gary Darmstadt, director of family health at the foundation’s global health program.

In her TEDx Change talk about the value of contraception for women and families throughout the world (especially in the poorest countries), Melinda Gates made reference to a new site, No Controversy.  In her talk, Mrs. Gates spoke about the value of contraception in her own life and is encouraging women and men to speak about its role in their lives, whether or not they are personal users of contraceptives or have benefitted in other ways (read this article about her talk and views).

I’m sharing this story to support equal access to contraceptives—which 200 million people worldwide still lack. Will you share yours?

More than 1 billion people currently use birth control. For the most part, they do it without hesitation. They do it because they want the power to plan their own lives—and to raise healthy, happy families when they are ready to do so. There is almost no controversy around this routine fact of everyday life.

“There’s nothing to giggle or be shy about; there’s no shame in it. It’s important for us to learn about these things. Be totally bindaas (carefree) and ask me questions,” says Aparna Bhola, with a wide smile.
It’s a hot Sunday afternoon, but the stifling Mumbai summer air does nothing to curb the enthusiasm of the girls surrounding her. Aparna, a spunky 16-year-old, is in the midst of giving a group of her peers a candid sex-education class, and today’s topic is pregnancy. She leads the class confidently, dispelling superstitions with funny stories and apologizing disarmingly for her chalk drawing skills.

Wits guest star Julia Sweeney shares a story about discussing the birds and bees (and frogs) with her eight-year-old daughter.

HERE’S what a woman in Texas now faces if she seeks an abortion.
Under a new law that took effect three weeks ago with the strong backing of Gov. Rick Perry, she first must typically endure an ultrasound probe inserted into her vagina. Then she listens to the audio thumping of the fetal heartbeat and watches the fetus on an ultrasound screen.

The relationship between abstinence, contraception, sex and teens is nothing if not complicated. On Tuesday, it got even more tangled as Utah lawmakers gave a nod to what could become the nation’s most restrictive sex-education policy if it passes: no talk of contraception and no mention of homosexuality. No mention of much, in fact, besides an emphasis on abstinence before marriage, if that.

Michigan mother Francie Baldino was shocked when her son spent more than six years in jail for high-school sex. She's leading a growing national movement of parents fighting powerful laws that label teens as sex offenders.

Lauren Myracle, a New York Times bestselling author, knows how to make parents mad. A series of her young-adult novels has topped this year’s annual list of “Most Challenged Books,” released by the American Library Association. In other words, these are the books that receive the most complaints at libraries and schools—the books people want to ban.

She was wearing a polka dot skirt and her favorite pink flip-flops the day she left her village in Albania. Her mom called out her name before she got into her boyfriend's red Mitsubishi. She didn't turn to wave goodbye. She was 12 and angry.

Teen pregnancy rates are at a 30-year-low (and births to teenage mothers are down as well, to 34.3 births per 1,000 girls 15 to 19 years old in 2010, the lowest rate since the government began keeping track in 1940). Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released numbers offering one possible reason for those positive trends: more sexually experienced teenagers reported current use of highly effective contraceptive methods (intrauterine device, implant, pill, patch, ring or injectable contraceptive).

At the Economix blog, they’re talking about a study showing a strong correlation between teenage births and income inequality: teenagers in the states with the highest income inequality (with little hope of upward mobility) are roughly 5 percentage points more likely to give birth as teenagers than those in states with the lowest inequality. Are policies promoting economic opportunity as important as sex ed?

Researchers have long tried to untangle the complicated mix of economics, culture, education and contraception (or lack thereof) that leads to teenage pregnancy.

A group of advocates for sexuality education in schools, including theSexuality Information and Education Council of the United StatesAdvocates for Youth and Answer, have joined forces and worked with “40 individuals from the fields of health education, sexuality education, public health, public policy, philanthropy and advocacy” to create what they call “national sexuality education standards (PDF).” The report says that the goal of the proposed standards is to “provide clear, consistent and straightforward guidance on the essential minimum, core content for sexuality education that is developmentally and age-appropriate for students in Grades K–12.”


LORAIN, Ohio — Marriage has lost its luster in Lorain, Ohio. Sixty-three percent of all births to women under 30 in Lorain County occur outside marriage, according to Child Trends, a research center in Washington. That figure has risen by more than two-thirds over the past two decades, and now surpasses the national figure of 53 percent.

LORAIN, Ohio — It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal. After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.

A small but growing number of teens and even younger children who think they were born the wrong sex are getting support from parents and from doctors who give them sex-changing treatments, according to reports in the medical journal Pediatrics.

Every time you go shopping, you share intimate details about your consumption patterns with retailers. And many of those retailers are studying those details to figure out what you like, what you need, and which coupons are most likely to make you happy. Target, for example, has figured out how to data-mine its way into your womb, to figure out whether you have a baby on the way long before you need to start buying diapers. From the New York Times:

There was lots of excitable talk last week about birth control, with President Obama dialing back his initial plan for mandating contraceptive coverage to exempt employers who object to such coverage on religious grounds. In those cases, the health-insurance provider, rather than the employer, will be on the hook to pay for the services. Tellingly, health-insurance companies seem quite happy with this compromise, knowing, as they do, that paying for contraceptives is a lot less costly than paying for pregnancies and neonatal care.

As President Hamid Karzai confirms U.S.-Afghan negotiations with the Taliban, women’s rights are likely to get left in the dust.
“There was a piercing cry, then nothing,” says Jamila, large tears welling up in her dark eyes. “They were beating her legs with a long metal pipe. When I asked what her crime had been, they said she should have been at mosque, not walking alone down the street.

Countries restricting abortions, particularly in Africa and Latin America, have higher rates of unsafe abortion than those that allow the procedure, according to a study published today in The Lancet journal.

For our first Reading Club selection, on “character education,” we heard from 536 students, and were delighted and impressed by the conversation.
This time around we’ve chosen something that we think is likely to generate even more interest: “Teaching Good Sex.”
It’s another long-form New York Times Magazine article, and it focuses on a 12th-grade class at a Pennsylvania private school which, in its breadth, depth and frank embrace of sex and sexuality as a “force for good” — even for teenagers — may be the only one of its kind.

Abortion has a scary reputation, regardless of whether you’re for or against it. But the perception that it’s a high-risk procedure isn’t rooted in truth, according to new research.
Although more than half of states counsel women on the risks of abortion, a study published online Monday in Obstetrics & Gynecology finds that a legal abortion is actually far safer than giving birth.

Many church-affiliated institutions will have to cover free birth control for employees, the Obama administration announced Friday in an election-year move that outraged religious groups, fueling a national debate about the reach of government.

“First base, second base, third base, home run,” Al Vernacchio ticked off the classic baseball terms for sex acts. His goal was to prompt the students in Sexuality and Society — an elective for seniors at the private Friends’ Central School on Philadelphia’s affluent Main Line — to examine the assumptions buried in the venerable metaphor. “Give me some more,” urged the fast-talking 47-year-old, who teaches 9th- and 12th-grade English as well as human sexuality. Arrayed before Vernacchio was a circle of small desks occupied by 22 teenagers, six male and the rest female — a blur of sweatshirts and Ugg boots and form-fitting leggings.

Gaby Rodriguez, 17, shocked her friends, teachers and family when she said she was pregnant. She surprised them even more when she revealed this week that for six months, she had faked the pregnancy.

A senior at a south-central Washington high school faked her pregnancy for the past six months as a social experiment for her senior project.
Gaby Rodriguez revealed she was not pregnant Wednesday by taking off the belly bundle in front of a stunned student assembly at Toppenish High School in Yakima, Wash., that ended with a standing ovation.

Less than nine months after the story of Gaby Rodriguez and her fake-pregnancy senior project went viral through news media, the Toppenish High School grad is getting ready for the release of a book and TV movie based on her experience.

Even at an all-time low, the U.S. teen pregnancy rate is still the highest among developed countries.
Teens are notorious for spurning adults’ advice, but when it comes to getting pregnant, their refusal to listen is more than merely annoying: it’s become a public health problem.
A report released Thursday by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveyed close to 5,000 girls in 19 states who got pregnant unintentionally and subsequently gave birth between 2004 and 2008. Half had not used birth control and a third explained their reasoning by saying they didn’t think they could get pregnant. Go figure.

While heading to class last year, Stephanie Cisneros, a Denver-area high school junior, was arguing with a friend about ways that sexually transmitted diseases might be passed along.
Ms. Cisneros knew she could resolve the dispute in class — but not by raising her hand. While her biology teacher lectured about fruit flies, Ms. Cisneros hid her phone underneath her lab table and typed a message to ICYC (In Case You’re Curious), a text-chat program run by Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.
Soon, her phone buzzed. “There are some STDs you can get from kissing but they are spread more easily during sex,” the reply read. “You can get a STD from oral sex. You should use a condom whenever you have sex.”

Last year, the teen birthrate dropped to the lowest level ever reported in the US. Increased use of birth control is one reason, and many say that parent-child dialogue is key.

The first time that I asked my general practitioner in Hong Kong for a prescription for birth control pills, she stopped scribbling down her notes in my file and looked up at me. “You don’t need a prescription for that,” she said, bemused. In Hong Kong, as in some other parts of the world, birth control pills are available over the counter; you can pick up your favorite brand in the drug store aisle next to condoms and pregnancy tests. Sitting there in the doctor’s chair, I felt 1) a little guilty of the beloved American habit of assuming U.S. policy is the global norm and 2) a little surprised at being the person in the room with the most conservative notions about contraception.

With their father, Keith Brown, behind bars for molesting them as children, sisters Desirae and Deondra Brown of the classical quintet talk publicly for the first time about their ordeal, how their family reacted to the news, their father’s denials—and why they went to the police.

To borrow a line from Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, support for family planning and reproductive health is facing, "the best of times, the worst of times." If you were in New York City during the past several days, one could easily conclude that prospects for family planning and reproductive health are on the rise, but if you were in the nation's capital or, worse, Dallas, Texas, one might easily think the opposite.

Women who have experienced rape or other abuse have far higher rates of mental disorders and are up to 20 times more likely to attempt suicide than other females, according to an Australian study.

Insurance Coverage for Contraception Is Required
The Obama administration issued new standards on Monday that require health insurance plans to cover all government-approved contraceptives for women, without co-payments or other charges.

In Afghanistan, Rage at Young Lovers
HERAT, Afghanistan — The two teenagers met inside an ice cream factory through darting glances before roll call, murmured hellos as supervisors looked away and, finally, a phone number folded up and tossed discreetly onto the workroom floor.

On a bright Sunday morning, young women walked the streets of New Delhi without the fear of being ogled or groped. For yesterday's female participants in SlutWalk Delhi, one of a series of marches around the world protesting sexual violence against women, the atmosphere of safety was an exception to daily life in the Indian capital.

A revolutionary school in Detroit that lets young mothers bring their kids was almost closed despite its outstanding graduation rate. Jesse Ellison on an education worth fighting for.

Sex education: a few lessons
Most parents apparently believe children should start learning about sex when they're eight – here's why they're right.

As summer vacation begins, 17 girls at Gloucester High School are expecting babies — more than four times the number of pregnancies the 1,200-student school had last year. Some adults dismissed the statistic as a blip. Others blamed hit movies like Juno and Knocked Up for glamorizing young unwed mothers. But principal Joseph Sullivan knows at least part of the reason there's been such a spike in teen pregnancies in this Massachusetts fishing town.

With a historic vote this month allowing gay couples to marry and adopt children, Argentina joined a vanguard of nations — nine, to be precise — granting gays and lesbians these rights. It’s a stunning development on a continent where not long ago such a bold measure would have been unthinkable.

(Reuters Health) - A new study suggests that nearly one in ten teens have same-sex partners -- almost twice as many as previous research found.
According to a 2002 study of Massachusetts and Vermont teens, only 5 percent to 6 percent of teens had same-sex partners. In the new study, 9.3 percent of teens said they did.

The U.S. teen birth rate dropped a smidgen between 2007 and 2008, but still, on average, three of every 10 girls gets pregnant at least once by the time she turns 20.It's long been a public health crisis, with experts scratching their heads over how to preach safe sex so teens will listen.

The birth control pill certainly represents a victory for women's rights, but the realities of taking a daily medication, not to mention the expense and some unpleasant side effects makes it seem more a burden for women than a reproductive equalizer. Enter male birth control, which, researchers say, might finally help men and women to shoulder life's responsibilities together in about 10 years.

Portwood reveals what she makes when asked by a judge
Before you go making your next eggnog a double (OK, fine, triple), let's run down a few facts.
It's not surprising that reality stars make laughably high amounts of money. But just how much is "Teen Mom's" most infamous trainwreck Amber Portwood pulling down in exchange for her dignity?

Sexting and college, they go together like carnal and knowledge. But a recent survey has put some numbers on how widespread it is. And the answer is: w i d e.

Sarah Palin's daughter pulled in more than a quarter-million bucks for her teen-pregnancy-awareness campaign. The fat fee is raising some hackles, but the head of the nonprofit she helped tells Shushannah Walshe she was worth the money.

Unless you're an adolescent male, you have already asked yourself this question, perhaps in the past few days: Is there something wrong with teen girls? Specifically, are they getting too sexy? Barely a week passes without a flash bulletin blinding us with news of another prominent preadult who is in the family way or showing off her underthings. Miley Cyrus, 15, seminaked! Jamie Lynn Spears, 16, pregnant! A bunch of Massachusetts high schoolers all having babies together! It's an epidemic!

A study of the sexual behavior of New York City high school students found that at least 9% of sexually active teens reported having had at least one same-sex partner. Among teens who had engaged in sex with both sexes, 39% identified themselves as heterosexual or straight; they also reported higher rates than average of partner violence, risky sex and forced sex.

Steve Owens had always left birth control to his wife, who took the pill. After all, male methods were vasectomy, which he did not want, and condoms, which he described as: “Well, condoms are condoms.”

Sarah Palin’s daughter was paid handsomely for her abstinence campaign. The message she’s sending: getting pregnant is a great way to make money for doing nothing.

Of the million or so kids who drop out of school every year, nearly half are girls. They drop out for the same reasons boys do: they skip school, fall behind academically and they're bored. But the single biggest reason girls drop out is because they get pregnant.

Parents may think their teens aren't listening to them about anything, let alone sex, but new research shows that 45% of teens consider their parents — not their friends or celebrities — their sexual role models.

So far, we've brought you the who, what, when, where and how of Ashland, Cherryland and San Lorenzo's booming teen birthrate. Now, experts try to fill in the 'why'

Last night on MTV Tr3s' hit show, Quiero Mis Quinces, we met Jiselle from Mountain View, California. When she became pregnant at 14, Jiselle’s plans for a quinceañera were halted.  After two years, and with the help of her grandparents, the Mexican-American teen was able to realize her quinces dream.  The teen mom, who is now 17, spoke to from her home about her quinces and the difficulties of planning her party and being a mother.

Guatemala’s first-ever public buses reserved exclusively for use by women began covering routes in Guatemala City yesterday during the peak rush hour times of 6:00 a.m.–7:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.–7:00 p.m.  The special fleet, which exempts male conductors and children under 12 from the restrictions, can be easily identified by pink ribbons or pink-colored signs bearing the explicit instructions: “For Women Only.”

Pregnancy-related deaths are on the rise in the U.S., and a new report reveals that heart disease is a major factor.

Memo to Moms: Relax! Research shows that not every little thing you do impacts how your kids will turn out—just being there for them makes the biggest impact of all.
Mothers' influence is dead; long live mothers' influence.

The House may have voted to strip Planned Parenthood of funding, but the personal stories from Gwen Moore and Jackie Speier about an unplanned pregnancy and an abortion inspired women everywhere. The two congresswomen tell Michelle Goldberg why they decided to speak out.

Almost unnoticed in the wars over the federal budget has been a pitched battle over money for Planned Parenthood, which provides contraception, medical services and abortions at 800 clinics around the country.

A proposed health curriculum in Helena, Montana, public schools has riled up some parents who say it starts teaching students about sex far too early.

There are no crying-baby dolls here. And no abstinence message, either. Instead, there's plenty of straight talk about relationships, marriage, children and money, all designed to give teenagers — especially boys — a dose of reality about teen parenthood.

Under the Obama administration, the U.S. is shifting gears on teen pregnancy prevention. Everyone is still on-message that abstinence should be the core message of any federally funded program, but comprehensive sex education is about to get a boost from the federal government.

Leyla W. couldn't figure out where her birth control pills kept going. One day a few tablets would be missing; the next, the whole container. Her then-boyfriend shrugged and said he hadn't seen them. She believed him — until she found them in his drawer. When she confronted him, he hit her.

Adolescent pregnancy is pregnancy in girls age 19 or younger.

In a sharp departure from the abstinence-only message of the Bush years, the new health law pours hundreds of millions of dollars into sex education programs that aim to provide teenagers with comprehensive information about protecting themselves from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

The old stereotype of the gold-digging hussy who gets pregnant to trap a man into marriage seems to have faded, probably because women are not as economically dependent on men as they once were. But that's not to say that pregnancy is no longer being wielded as a weapon: researchers who work in family planning and with victims of domestic violence say it is women who are now being threatened with pregnancy by their partners.

DEATH is scary, but it’s not nearly as frightening as birth.

As if we didn’t have enough wars, the House of Representatives has declared one against Planned Parenthood.

Cheryl Ziegler, an 18-year-old single mother from the Lower Brule Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, travels with her trainer to an amateur boxing match and dreams of going pro.

A new survey of teenagers and sex signals some big changes in attitudes. For example, an overwhelming majority of teens now say that having babies outside of marriage is OK. But the new attitudes haven't carried over into changes in actual sexual behavior — the rate of sex among teenagers has remained the same for about a decade.

Over the past decade, politicians have battled about how to reduce the teen pregnancy rate: safe-sex vs. abstinence-only sex education programs, even as films such as "Juno" and births by famous teens such as Bristol Palin and Jamie Lynn Spears seemed to make adolescent pregnancies more socially acceptable.

The rate at which U.S. women are having babies continued to fall between 2008 and 2009, federal officials reported Tuesday, pushing the teen birthrate to a record low and prompting a debate about whether the drop was caused by the recession, an increased focus on encouraging abstinence, more adolescents using birth control or a combination of those factors.

Sometimes, though, the melodrama of reality TV features the lives of women, unadorned. That's the conundrum posed by MTV's family of shows about America's young and fecund: "16 and Pregnant," "Teen Mom" and this past Tuesday night's special on abortion, "No Easy Decision."

The rate of teen births in the U.S. is at its lowest level in almost 70 years. Yet, the sobering context is that the teen pregnancy rate is far lower in many other countries. The most convincing explanation is that contraceptive use is much higher among teens in most Western European countries.

The baby boy’s umbilical cord was still attached when a woman and her daughter discovered him crying in bushes underneath a bridge in Tapah, about an hour’s drive north of Kuala Lumpur. Doctors who examined him determined that he was just two hours old.

Having sex doesn't necessarily mean what you think.
In fact, having sex means different things to different people, the most comprehensive study of sexual health-related behaviors in recent years concludes.

“The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” which limits the government’s definition of rape to cut off many victims from abortion coverage, might not pass Obama’s desk—but it sends a message to all women that certain kinds of sexual assault don’t count, says Michelle Goldberg.
Reacting to the release of videotapes in which its staff members advise an apparent sex trafficker, Planned Parenthood said Monday that it would retrain thousands of staff members across the country on its rules for reporting possible dangers to minors, and would automatically fire anyone who violated them.