Starting sexual intercourse at an early age places a young person at risk of unwanted or unintended pregnancy, early childbearing and high fertility. Evidence has shown that those who initiate sex at early ages are more likely to be exploited by adults and less likely to use protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

Early childbearing is associated with high maternal mortality and morbidity rates as well as high infant mortality rates (IMR). In addition, many young women who fall pregnant opt for abortion, and because of the stigma and legal restrictions associated with abortion they often opt for unsafe abortion services, placing themselves at risk of death or lifelong reproductive complications.