Adolescent Sexuality in The United States - Psychological Effects

Psychological Effects

For teens, "having sex changes you. It is emotionally powerful and there are risks involved." Dr. Drew Pinsky has also said "All of us want young people to make better choices, to delay their sexual contact, to make sure that they fully understand the implications of those choices -- which of course, they never do..."

According to Harvard Medical School's Mark O'Connell, adolescents "often haven't achieved the emotional, even neurological, maturity necessary for making autonomous and self-aware sexual choices." Emotional, social and cognitive development continues well past adolescence. As the frontal lobe of the brain, which houses complex thinking, understanding cause and effect, controlling impulses, and judgment, is not fully developed until a person is in their 20s, "teens are less prepared to think about 'if I do this today, what will happen to me tomorrow?'"

With their still-developing brains, teens do not yet possess the ability to either fathom the physical and emotional consequences of sex or to deal with them once they happen. In one study, among those who had had both oral and vaginal sex, 60% reported at least one negative effect, such as feeling used, getting pregnant, contracting a sexually transmitted infection, or feeling bad about themselves.

Production of oxytocin increases during the adolescent years, and it is key to monogamy and long-term attachment. Oxytocin is "nature's way of weaving people together." Girls have more of it and may be more sensitive to it. Psychologists theorize that oxytocin will make them care about relationships and feel connections with others more intensely than boys. This is "a logical explanation for why girls are in turmoil after a hook up and boys are not".

Read more about this topic:  Adolescent Sexuality In The United States

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