Policy Factsheet

Sexual Health Education and Contraceptive Interventions

Reasons for Policy

  • Adolescents who have an unintended pregnancy are less likely to complete school education.1
  • Children born to adolescent mothers are more likely to have low birth weight and become victims of neglect and abuse.2
  • 27% of pregnancies among 15–19-year-olds ended in abortion in 2006.3

Community Groups

  • Local Government
  • Parent Teacher's Association
  • School District

Policy Components

  • Sexual health education curriculum in schools
  • Educational and participatory programs to improve knowledge about risks and consequences of pregnancy and STDs
  • Educational intervention and contraception promotion
  • Abstinence promotion

Desired Outcomes

  • Reduce unintended pregnancy
  • Improve adolescent knowledge about risks and consequences of pregnancy and STDs
  • Reduce risky sexual behaviors
  • Reduce STD infections
  • Reduce abortions

Level of Evidence Available to Evaluate Effectiveness of Policy

For all policies we describe on this website, we have applied the Standards of Evidence as defined by Flay et al. (2005) in the Standards of Evidence document published by Prevention Science.

The effectiveness level of this policy is 1: Evidence-Based Policies Meeting Criteria for Effectiveness.

The levels of effectiveness as noted are:

  1. meets criteria for policy effectiveness (consistent, positive outcomes from at least two high-quality experimental or quasi-experimental trials using a comparison group or interrupted time series design);
  2. consistent evidence available linking policy with positive outcomes from high-quality observational studies only;
  3. insufficient evidence available for policy or policy components.

Achievable Results

On average a combination of educational and contraceptive interventions can achieve:

  • Large reductions in unintended pregnancy (RR 0.49, 95% CI 0.33 – 0.74)1

Abstinence-plus programs (promote sexual abstinence, but also encourage safer-sex strategies) can achieve:

  • Significant improvements in knowledge of HIV/AIDS information5
  • Significant reductions in sexual risk behavior (reduce incidence and frequency of sexual activity and unprotected sex)5

Community Examples

Lake Washington School District, Washington uses The Great Body Shop and The Family Life and Sexual Health Curriculum (F.L.A.S.H. ) for health education

Chicago, Illinois public schools offer sexual health and reproductive education to students

Links to Policy Examples

Lake Washington School District, Washington approved The Great Body Shop and F.L.A.S.H. curriculums for use in the public schools

Chicago, Illinois the Board of Education for the City of Chicago requires schools to provide appropriate sexual health education to students

Be sure to check with your state, county, and municipal governments regarding potential existing laws that may impede any new policy development.


  1. Oringanje C, Meremikwu MM, Eko H, Esu E, Meremikwu A, Ehiri JE. Interventions for preventing unintended pregnancies among adolescents. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2009, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD005215.

  2. Elfebein DS, Felice ME (2003). Adolescent pregnancy. Pediatr Clin North Am, 50(4), 781-800.

  3. Guttmacher Institute (2010). U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions: National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity, http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/FB-ATSRH.html#9, accessed Jan. 26, 2010.