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I AM in Iowa Adolescents Making Choices to Control Their Future Teen:Health, Relationship, Body and Sexuality
Sep 25

Reproductive Coercion

Posted By iamincontrol | September 25, 2014

birth control pills

Sexual coercion is a term used to describe when someone pressures, forces, or uses manipulation to get someone else to engage in a sexual act that they don’t want to do or are uncertain about doing.  How about reproductive coercion?  Maybe you’ve heard about it, but probably not.  This term is being used to describe behaviors that interfere with a person’s decision about use of contraception or getting pregnant.  It is typically a form of pressure or control that an intimate partner may use related to sexual activities.  For example, a young man may put lots of pressure to have sex without using condoms because it affects his perception of pleasure – regardless of the risk to his partner for an STD or pregnancy.  Another example would be a young woman who tells her boyfriend that she is using birth control but really isn’t because she wants to get pregnant (even if her boyfriend doesn’t).  On the flip side, a guy who wants his girlfriend to get pregnant (even if she doesn’t) may mess with her birth control pills so she is not protected. There are usually two types of reproductive coercion: birth control sabotage (attempts to interfere with use of effective birth control) and pregnancy pressure/coercion (attempts to influence decisions about pregnancy).

How common is it?
  • Among high school students nationwide, 11.8% of females and 4.5% of males have been forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to.[1]
  • Nearly half (45 percent) of girls in an online study said they know a friend or peer who has been pressured into having either intercourse or oral sex.[2]
  • One in ten 15-year-old girls who dated someone within the past six months reported experiencing sexual coercion by a dating partner.[3]
Questions to ask yourself:
  • Does my partner mess with my birth control to try to get me pregnant when I don’t want to be?
  • Does my partner pressure me or make me have sex when I don’t want to?
  • Does my partner refuse to use condoms when I ask?

If you answer yes to any one of these questions, you may be experiencing reproductive coercion, which can place you at risk for STD’s or unintended pregnancy.

What can someone do if this is happening?

It’s important to be able to talk to the person you are seeing about a lot of things (such as our feelings, likes, and dislikes) – but most important when you are sexual with someone that you can communicate where you stand in these areas:

  • How far you want to go sexually
  • What you don’t want to do sexually
  • If you are concerned about STD’s and want to use condoms
  • Your feelings about birth control, and method(s) you want or don’t want to use

In a healthy, honest and caring relationship, your partner will be willing to understand and respect where you “draw the line” in these areas.  You can mutually discuss and decide what to do, without pressure to do something you are not ready or prepared for.

Where can you get more information?

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline – (866) 331-9474 or (866-331-8453 TTY)


[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2012. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance-United States, 2011 MMWR. 61(4):10.

[2] Liz Claiborne Inc. 2005. Omnibuzz® Topline Findings-Teen Relationship Abuse Research. Teenage Research Unlimited. Available at

[3] Hebert M, Lavoie F, Vitaro F, McDuff P & Tremblay RE. 2008. Association of Child Sexual Abuse and Dating Victimization with Mental Health Disorder in a Sample of Adolescent Girls. Journal of Traumatic Stress. 21(2): 181-189.