Center for Young Women’s Health


The mission of Young Women’s Health is to help teen girls, their parents, teachers, and health care providers improve their understanding of normal health and development, as well as of specific diseases and conditions. The site provides health guides in English and Spanish, health-related quizzes, and an Ask Us section.

To read more about the Center for Young Women’s Health, click here. 

The Risk of Unintended Pregnancy Among Young Women with Mental Health Symptoms (2014)

Every year in the United States, an estimated 3.2 million unintended pregnancies occur and inadequate contraceptive use accounts for 90% of these unintended pregnancies.  A great volume of research has associated women’s mental health with risky contraceptive behaviors, sex behaviors and relationships.  Risky contraceptive behaviors include contraceptive nonuse, misuse, discontinuation, and less effective method use while risky sex behaviors include having sex under the influence of alcohol and drugs, intimate partner violence and non-consensual sex.  From a biological and cognitive framework, mental health symptoms have been found to affect women’s cognitive capabilities for decision-making, risk assessment and planning and have been found to distort their perceived susceptibility to an outcome like pregnancy.  Naturally, many researchers have wondered whether there was a direct link between mental health and unintended pregnancy.

Drs. Hall, Kusunoki, Gatny and Barber, researchers from the University of Michigan, wanted to know exactly whether depression and stress symptoms directly translate to an actual effect on women’s risk of unintended pregnancy.  They collected data from 992 young women ages 18-20 years old who reported a strong desire to avoid pregnancy.  The researchers conducted interviews and analyzed journal entries over one year.  They measured contraception use, relationships and pregnancy outcomes and looked at a variety of factors such as race/ethnicity, educational attainment, relationship status, religion, birth control usage and etc.

The researchers found that:

  • Women with baseline stress symptoms had a 1.6 times higher risk of becoming pregnant over one year than women without stress symptoms.
  • Women who had co-occurring stress and depression had 2 times the risk of pregnancy than women without symptoms.
  • The sole effect of depression on pregnancy risk remains unclear

This research study highlights the negative impact of mental health symptoms, especially stress and co-occurring depression and stress, on young women’s risk of unintended pregnancy over one year.  This is important, especially for healthcare providers, who may want to consider young adults’ mental health during discussions about choosing the best form of contraception.  This is also important for health educators who may want to educate young women about the importance of stress management and provide resources and/or referrals to young adults who are experiencing mental health symptoms.


Hall, K.S., Moreau, C., Trussell, J., Barber, J. Young women’s consistency of contraceptive use–does depression or stress matter? 2013. Contraception. 88:5. 641-649.

Link to “The Risk of Unintended Pregnancy Among Young Women with Mental Health Symptoms.”

Pregnancy and Childbirth Among Females Aged 10–19 Years – United States, 2007–2010 (2013)

This report is part of the Center of Disease Control Health Disparities and Inequalities Report (CHDIR) 2013.  It aims to highlight and raise awareness of differences in the characteristics of females aged <20 years who become pregnant and give birth and to prompt actions to reduce these disparities.

CDC examined 2007 and 2010 birth rate (live births, induced abortions, and fetal losses) data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) and comparable data for earlier years. Characteristics analyzed included four age groups (10–14, 15–19, 15–17, and 18–19 years), race, ethnicity, and state.  Household income and educational attainment were not analyzed.

  • Data showed little change in the proportion of males and females aged 15–19 years who have ever had sex
  • In 2010, the U.S. birth rate for females aged 15–19 years had decreased 45% since the 1991 peak
  • The pregnancy rate in 2008 for females aged 15–19 years was the lowest ever in the more than 3 decades
  • Birth rates for females aged 15–19 years tend to be highest in the South and Southwest and lowest in the Northeast and upper Midwest
  • Birth rate decreases ranged from 40% and 42% for non-Hispanic white and Hispanic females aged 18–19 years, to 47% to 56% for non-Hispanic black, America Indian/Alaska Native, and Asian/Pacific Islander females aged 18–19 years

3 tables are also available that show birth rates for females by age, race/ethnicity, and state.

Citation: Ventura, S.J., Hamilton, B.E., Mathews, T.J. Pregnancy and Childbirth Among Females Aged 10–19 Years – United States, 2007–2010. 2013. CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report- United States, 2013.   Supplement. Vol. 62. No. 3. 71-76.

Link to the Article

PDF of the Article

Abortion-Seeking Minors’ Views on the Illinois Parental Notification Law: A Qualitative Study (2012)

UPDATE: While the parental involvement law was not in place in Illinois at the time the research was performed, the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion is now in effect.  Under this act, health care providers must notify an adult family member 48 hours before performing an abortion for a patient under 18 years old.  There are now a total of 39 states in the U.S. that have parental involvement laws in effect.

Researchers interviewed 30 women ages 14 to 17 who were seeking abortion services in Chicago to learn their opinions about the parental involvement law.

  • Participants were very concerned that the parental involvement law could harm minors.
    • Most participants believed that it is their private decision to choose who to tell or don’t tell, that parents are not necessarily the people they trust the most and that they will lose control over their bodies.  (Kavanagh et al., 2012. p.161)
    • “Many participants expressed concern that […] some parents might […] force [them] to continue the pregnancy” (Kavanagh et al., 2012. p.162)
    • Many participants fear unsupportive parents will physically or emotionally abuse them, kick them out of the house or be disappointed  with them (Kavanagh et al., 2012. p.162)
    • Participants did mention some benefits of the parental involvement law
      • They would be able to gain outside support during this difficult decision
      • Their parents or guardians would know if complications arise from the procedure
      • It would maintain a sense of trust between the parent/guardian and daughter
      • All states that mandate parental involvement also allow a judicial bypass option but participants view this option as another barrier to abortion. (Kavanagh et al., 2012. p.164)

Read more about the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act here and here

Read more about Parental Involvement in Minors’ Abortions here

Citation: Kavanagh, E.K., Lee, A., Hasselbacher, B.B., Tristan, S. and Gilliam, M. (2012). Abortion-Seeking Minors’ Views on the Illinois Parental Notification Law: A Qualitative Study.  Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. Vol.44., Issue 3.,159-166.

PDF of the Article

Young Women Who Have Sex with Women – Falling Thru the Cracks for Sexual Health Care (2001)

This article, published by Advocates for Youth, focuses on the risks that young women who have sex with women (YWSW) face.  It is often assumed that YWSW are at little or no risk for HIV, other STIs and unintended pregnancies when in fact, YWSW can be at risk for all three.

Interesting data and statistics include–

  • “Some women who have sex with women are uncomfortable with routine gynecological care, including PAP smears and STI screening.”
  • “98% of the 347 women who reported having sex only with other women also reported other risk behaviors, such as injection drug use.”
  • Many YWSW also have sexual intercourse with men, including men who have sex with other men.

Health care providers and researchers take incomplete sexual histories and often overlook YWSW altogether.  There is a lack of prevention messages targeted towards these youth and an assumption that YWSW are “too young” to identify as lesbian or participate in risk behaviors.

Tips and recommendations are included to facilitate the improvement of health care of YWSW and target their health needs.

Citation: Gilliam, J. Young Women Who Have Sex with Women: Falling through the Cracks for Sexual Health Care. (2001). Advocates for Youth-Issues at a Glance.

Link to PDF of “Young Women Who Have Sex with Women: Falling through the Cracks for Sexual Health Care”

Most HPV Vaccinations not Completed According to Study (2010)

According to Medscape Today, a journal articles details that nearly 70% of young women and girls who received a HPV vaccination did not complete the recommended 3-dose treatment.  HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted disease among adolescent girls in the U.S.  The vast majority of girls and young women with HPV will clear the infection on their own but about 10% will develop persistence infections.

2641 girls and young women (ages 9-26 years old) were treated at the University of Maryland Medican Center started the HPV vaccination regimen.  39.1% of the females received the first dose, 30.1% received 2 doses, and only 30.78% received all 3 doses.  Surprisingly, 18-26 year olds were least likely to complete all 3 doses of the HPV vaccine.

Link to Medscape article “Most HPV Vaccinations not Completed According to Study”


The Center on Halsted (Chicago)

The Center on Halsted in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood is dedicated to advancing the health and wellbeing of the LGBTQ community and to providing a safe and welcoming environment where community members can take part in programs and activities.

They host a variety of programs and resources–

  • Community Programs (Bisexual Programs, Women’s Programs, Children and Family Programs, Co-Ed Volleyball, etc.)
  • Cyber Center (Career & Job Training, Classes & Workshops)
  • Youth Programs (Youth Leadership Council, GED Programming, Sexual Health and Identity Workshops, etc)
  • HIV Testing & Prevention (HIV Support Groups, HIV Education Groups & Discussions, etc)
  • Mental Health (Psychotherapy, Therapy & Support Groups, etc.)
  • Senior Program (Benefits Check-up, Homesharing Program, Friendly Visitor Program, etc.)
  • Advocacy (Legal Clinic & Referrals, Legal Seminars, etc.)

Link to The Center on Halsted website

Link to The Center on Halted’s upcoming events

Contact The Center at Halsted at 773-472-6469 or stop by the Center during their normal business hours to speak to a staff member. To sign up for our mailing list and get all of the latest LGBTQ news, fill out this form.

Open Daily from 8am – 9pm

Center on Halsted
3656 N Halsted
Chicago, IL 60613

Click here for directions.

HPV Fact Sheet (2014)

This fact sheet, published by the Centers for Disease Control, provides information about Human papillomavirus (HPV).  Information about symptoms, prevalence, treatment, HPV & cancer and vaccination are included.

Link to CDC’s HPV Fact Sheet

There are additional HPV fact sheets that focus on specific topics as well:

Link to HPV and Oropharyngeal Cancer Fact Sheet

Link to Making Sense of Your Pap and HPV Test Results Fact Sheet

Link to HPV Vaccine Information For Young Women Fact Sheet

Link to HPV Vaccine Information for Clinicians Fact Sheet

Contraceptive Use Among U.S. Teens and Young Adults (2011)


This research brief draws data from the 2006 and 2002 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) and provides up-to-date information on contraceptive use among teens (ages 15-19) and young adults (ages 20-24).

Results show that there was a significant slower increase in contraceptive use in the 2000s compared to the increase seen in the late 1980s and 1990s.  However, increases in hormonal methods and long-acting methods (such as IUD or implants) of contraception are seen among young women.  An increase in the percentage of young men who used a condom in addition to hormone or long-lasting contraception method was also seen.

Other interesting findings include:

  • The vast majority of sexually experienced teen
    and young adult women have used a birth control
    method at least once in their life.
  • Sexually experienced teen and young adult women
    have used a variety of hormonal and long-acting
    methods of birth control at least once in their life.
  • Sexually experienced young adult women are
    more likely than their teen counterparts to have
    used a hormonal or long-acting method at some
    point prior to the survey.
  • Sexually experienced white, black, and Hispanic
    teen and young adult women differ in their use of
    specific methods of birth control.
  • In 2006-10, almost eight in 10 females (78 percent)
    and 85 percent of males reported using some form
    of contraception at first sex.
  • Teens were more likely than were young adults to
    have used a condom at most recent sex.
  • Teens were more likely than were young adults to
    have used a condom at most recent sex.
  • The use of specific birth control methods at last
    sex by sexually active teen and young adult
    women has not changed since 2002.
  • Among females, use of contraception at most recent sex differed by race/ethnicity.



Welti, K., Wildsmith, E. and Manlove, J.  Trends and Recent Estimates: Contraceptive se Among U.S. Teens and Young Adults. 2011. Child Trends.

Link to “Contraceptive Use Among U.S. Teens and Young Adults (2011)”