For youth, having fewer sexual relationships correlates with more frequent use of contraception, find researchers who surveyed 4,556 unmarried, sexually experienced teens. Romantic relationships lead to more openness and compromise about using contraception, the researchers found. The study is one of the first to evaluate relationship status, such as romantic vs. casual, in relation to sexual practices.
The study found that teens who reported between four and 10 sexual relationships never or only inconsistently used contraception, and that their decision to use contraception with one partner was an unreliable predictor of whether they would use it with other partners. However, discussing contraception before sexual activity within the context of a romantic relationship almost doubled the likelihood that female teens would use contraception. The researchers suggest that sex education programs address relationship status in their curricula.
The National Institute of Child Health and Development funded the study. Free, four pages. (202) 572-6108, http://www.childtrends.org/Files//Child_Trends-2008_02_20_FS_ContraceptiveUse.pdf.