Teen pregnancy: psychological factors

Teen pregnancy: psychological factors

Teen pregnancy is more frequent than we can think. WHO establishes the period of adolescence between 10 and 19 years. Thus, it goes from the age at which the woman is fertile until the end of adolescence. It is, without a doubt, a phenomenon that has psychosocial and psychological consequences.

The organization Save The Children notes that 13 million children of women under 20 are born every year. 90% would correspond to countries called "developing" and the remaining 10% to developed countries. "Enrique Menéndez (2012) team points out that "The complications of pregnancy and childbirth are the main cause of mortality among women between the ages of 15 and 19 in these areas".

Throughout the article, we will see what these consequences are, as well as the theories that address the reason for this type of pregnancy. Adolescence is a vital period in which the subject experiences many changes. Thus, a pregnancy at this stage could lead to a psychological destabilization of the adolescent.


  • 1 How do teenagers think?
  • 2 Psychosocial consequences
  • 3 Teen pregnancy: Psychological consequences

How do teenagers think?

One of the first points to be treated in teenage pregnancy is the reason why it can happen. Some theories about the evolution of thought speak about it. Affirm that in adolescence one goes from a concrete thought to an abstract logical thought. What does this change mean?

As Valdivia and Molina (2003) describe, abstract logical thinking "It is characterized by being hypothetical deductive, integrating better what has been learned in the past with the present problems and its planning in the future, in addition allowing to prevent possible consequences before they happen or in situations that have never happened, since it is not limited to experience ".

"Good habits formed in youth make all the difference."


The authors emphasize that there are adolescents who have not yet developed this type of thinking and remain in concrete thinking. Thus, according to Valdivia and Molina, the consequence would be the inability to plan the future in a more flexible and realistic way. At the same time, they would not be able to integrate past experiences and know what the future consequences of their actions will be.

So, according to this theory, adolescents who have not made the leap to abstract logical thinking would not be able to prevent pregnancy. Why? Due to his inability to predict the results of his behavior. For example, they would have unprotected sex neglecting the risks that it would entail.

Psychosocial consequences

Teenage mothers will have to assume a series of roles for those who are not yet prepared. As the Muñóz team (2001) states, the roles they must acquire "They carry an adult task such as motherhood, for which it is not psychologically mature". This lack of maturity is accentuated if it is early adolescence.

"There are no bad youth, but poorly oriented youth."

-San Juan Bosco-

Hernández, Kimelan and Montino (2000) point out that in adolescent families the adaptation process to receive the new member is usually more complex. This is due to "They include subjects at various stages of development; those who are probably not waiting for the arrival of a new member, who will somehow modify their lives". The authors emphasize the unforeseen event and the consequences it can have for individuals who are not yet ready to receive a new member.

Teen Pregnancy: Psychological Consequences

Factors associated with pregnancy

Valdivia and Molina (2003) highlight the behavioral factors of minors associated with adolescent pregnancy. The authors mention certain aspects as relevant:

  • Family characteristics. There are certain characteristics that could influence teenage pregnancy depending on the family context. For example: unstructured families, poor family communication, stress or family violence ...
  • Perceived social support. Young pregnant women say they perceive less support from their families and their surroundings.
  • Intellectual level. Less logical-abstract thinking was found in pregnant adolescents. As the authors state the logical-abstract reasoning "It would allow, in theory, the anticipation of the negative consequences of a pregnancy".
  • Self esteem. Low levels of self-concept and self-esteem.
  • Presence or absence of depressive symptomatology. This point is more complex. Depressive symptomatology can be both a factor that predisposes to pregnancy, and a consequence thereof.

Risk behaviors

Authors such as Coard, Nitz and Felice (2000) point out different risk behaviors that trigger teenage pregnancy:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Drug's use.
  • Early sexual activity
  • Previous existence of a miscarriage.
  • Low rate of contraceptive use.

Pregnant teenagers syndrome

Lourdes Ibarra (2003), points out the "Syndrome of pregnant teenagers". For the author, This syndrome is based on the failure of different vital aspects of the adolescent. Thus, this failure occurs in:

  1. The functions of adolescence as the acquisition of independence, the achievement of one's identity, the determination of the sexual role and the development of a system of values ​​and vocational choice.
  2. The continuation of his studies or in preparation for adult life.
  3. The building a stable family, usually matrix and single parent.
  4. Finally, the failure to support herself, depending on your family or social welfare.

Psychological consequences

Martha Restrepo (1991), from the National University of Colombia, points out the following points as psychological consequences in adolescents:

  • Stress related to the management of an unplanned pregnancy and the alteration of educational and occupational plans.
  • Stress due to the transition between the multiple roles produced by motherhood. Both the marriage, if any, and the different responsibilities, take place too early according to the average.
  • Depression, perception of hopelessness, more frequent suicide attempts.
  • Frustration due to the difficulty in achieving educational aspirations and occupational that allow to provide the satisfaction of family needs.

Final reflection

Teen pregnancy is a complex issue. Definitely, more educational resources are needed to prevent this type of outcome. This is not intended to demonize pregnancy, but to highlight the lack of foresight and the negative consequences it can have on the adolescent's life.

As we have seen, when pregnancy is not sought, the life of the young woman can be completely unstructured, both at a psychological, educational, family and professional level. That is why it is so important to offer information and sexual education to adolescents. Giving them knowledge and making them think about the consequences of certain acts could be a good step towards an improvement in the prevention of such pregnancies.


  • Coard, S., Nitz, K and Felice, M. (2000). Repeat pregnancy among urban adolescents: Sociodemographic, family and health factors.Adolescence, 35, 193-200.
  • Hernández, G., Kimelman, M. and Montino, O. (2000). Perinatal mental health in hospital care for childbirth and the puerperium.Medical Journal of Chile, 128, 1283-1289.
  • Ibarra, L. (2003). Adolescence and motherhood. Psychological impact on women.Cuban Journal of Psychology, 20, (1), 43-47.
  • Menéndez, E., Navas, I., Hidalgo, Y. and Espert, J. (2002). Pregnancy and its complications in the teenage mother. Cuban Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 38 (3).
  • Restrepo, M. (1991). Psychological factors in adolescent mothers: intervention within a primary health care program.Psychology Magazine, 26, 57-71.
  • Valdivia M. and Molina, M. (2003). Psychological Factors Associated with Adolescent Maternity in Children Under 15. Journal of Psychology of the University of Chile, 12, (2), 85-10.
Related tests
  • Personality test
  • Self-esteem test
  • Couple Compatibility Test
  • Self-knowledge test
  • Friendship test
  • Am i in love