Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


A recent study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics confirmed that not all teens are motivated to avoid pregnancy, with about 14 percent of never-married female and 18 percent of never-married male teens reporting they would be “a little pleased” or “very pleased” if they got pregnant or  got a partner pregnant.

The study consisted of a series of interviews that included 2,767 teenagers ages 15 to19, of which 1,381 were female and 1,386 were male, between July 2006 and December 2008.  The report included results about sexual behavior trends, births to teens and attitudes towards sex, parenthood, marriage and cohabitation.

The report identified an increase since 2002 among males in the general use of condoms and condoms with hormonal contraceptive, as well as an increase in the percentage of teenage girls who used periodic abstinence, also known as the “calendar rhythm” method.

The majority of teens continue to believe “it is OK for an unmarried female to have a child.” The percentage of male teens advancing that belief increased to 64 percent in the current study compared with 50 percent in 2002.

Results also showed that about 42 percent of never-married teen girls and 43 percent of never-married teen boys had sexual intercourse at least once, which was not a significant change from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth results. However, there has been a slow but steady decline in youths’ early sexual activity; in 1988, 51 percent of girls had had intercourse at least once and in 1995, 55 percent of boys had had intercourse at least once.   

Also within the never-married teenagers, 79 percent of females and 87 percent of males used contraception during their first sexual encounter, with the condom still being the most commonly used form of contraception. 

Free, 86 pages.  http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_030.pdf.