Durations of adolescent sexual relationships before and after conception

Virginia Toledo-dreves, Laurie Schwab Zabin, Mark R. Emerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To explore durations of young couples' relationships between meeting and first intercourse, before first conception and for two years following conception and the associations between these durations; to describe the association between these durations and the young women's perceptions of the nature of these relationships. Methods: Three hundred and seven adolescent women were enrolled in a prospective study while presenting for pregnancy tests (the index event); they were followed for two years in three groups-those with negative tests, those who terminated the pregnancy and those who bore a child. Retrospective information about durations of relationships with first partners and partners at the index event was obtained at baseline; follow-up data was obtained on continuing relationships with the index partner. Results: Durations of relationships between adolescent females and their partners in this sample, both before and after conception, are rarely brief; the median duration of a girl's prior relationship with a partner with whom she conceives is almost two years. Similarly, almost half of the sample is still in a relationship at two years following the index event, a proportion that rises to two-thirds among those who bore a child together. Conclusions: Contrary to common belief or practice, there may be sufficient time and commitment to include many male partners in intervention programs before, and in parenting programs after, a first conception-a practice which could have positive implications for both adolescent partners and, potentially, for their child.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-172
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1995


  • Adolescent males
  • Adolescent partners
  • Adolescent pregnancy
  • Adolescent relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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