Less Sex Being Had Thanks to the Recession

Seventeen percent of sexually active teenage girls said they used the rhythm method as a means of birth control in 2008, up from just 11 percent in 2002, according to the latest report from the CDC. For most of these girls “rhythm method” means guessing the least risky day to have unprotected sex. You and I both know that one in five teenage girls isn’t taking her temperature every day and charting the consistency of her cervical mucus on the calendar.

Not so ab-fab

Amanda Marcotte of RH Reality Check blames abstinence-only propaganda for the trend. She points out that abstinence-based curricula rely heavily on shame to discourage kids from having sex. Teens who are ashamed don’t necessarily abstain, but they are less likely to use birth control when they do have sex. Claiming to use the rhythm method is an excuse not to use real birth control. Marcotte points out that abstinence-only curricula also promotes stereotypes of female passivity and male dominance, which makes it even harder for girls to negotiate condom use.

There is a glimmer of hope, Robin Marty of RH Reality Check reports that the Obama administration is shifting gears on sex ed. For the first time in many years, school districts will be eligible for federal funds to teach evidence-based, comprehensive sex ed. Abstinence-only funding hasn’t gone away, but at least districts will have the option.

Recession-based bedroom blues

Interestingly, teens are having slightly less sex overall, according to the CDC. The abstinence-only crowd is trying to take credit, but as Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones notes, the recession seems to be putting a damper on the sex lives of Americans of all ages. The latest sex survey by the AARP showed that Americans over 45 are having less sex than they were in 2004 and enjoying it less as well.

Looking at the same study, Wendy Strgar of Care2 notes that teen motherhood has become much more socially acceptable among adolescents, perhaps due to highly publicized teen moms like Bristol Palin and Jamie Spears.

The war on choice

Michelle Chen of RaceWire reports that hundreds of anti-choice bills have been introduced in state legislatures around the country since the passage of national health care reform. Missouri’s new Abortion Restriction Act requires abortion clinics to post signs offering state assistance if she has the baby. Too bad the Missouri legislature slashed the funds that would have provided most of those services.

Two moms = healthy kids

In other health news, a new study forthcoming in the journal Pediatrics shows that lesbian couples raise healthier children than straight couples. Gabriel Arana of TAPPED suggests that maybe lesbians do better on average because they are a self-selected group of highly motivated parents that had to overcome obstacles in order to raise their kids. Or maybe two moms are better than one.

As Arana notes, the politically important thing about this study is the finding that same-sex parents are doing at least as well as opposite sex parents. Conservatives opposed to gay rights have often justified second-class citizenship for gays in terms of protecting children from allegedly harmful same-sex parents. Now, science is showing that same-sex families are at least as healthy as more traditional family units.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint.

photo credit: kainr via flickr
by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger


Lika S.
Lika S.6 years ago

I home-school. I'll be giving my son the full talk about sex this week. While abstinence is preferable, I have to let him in on the facts about the birds and the bees now, and then more about the emotional part of it later when he's ready. Then of course the options, and yes, I'll be letting him know that condoms are available and viable as far as options are concerned.

Elsa Ferreira

Teresa C.: are you a man is disguise (I mean, are you using a pseudonym?). I do hope so. And you base that fantastic observation on what evidence? Sometimes women can be more mysoginistic than most men! Women have to wear pink dresses, big nails, high heels (so that they cannot run for they life), and be bovine, right? Get me out of here, mum!

beverly g.
beverly g.6 years ago

everybody stressed out with the recession and the state the Worlds becoming. Everyone scared.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.6 years ago

People don't risk having children, or they wouldn't be able to support them.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.6 years ago

So the recession has one positive effect...

Monica Tervoort
Monica Tervoort6 years ago

Interesting study, but I am happy that I had both a loving mother and father. It's important to have a balance in relationships, and if both are balance and compliment each other, The message of choices made in life, will help them define themselves. There a good people in every color and every gender. Loving, caring and values are what help a family and community thrive.

Teresa C.
Teresa C.6 years ago

What the study about the two moms says is that male children are "better behaved" than other children same age. This isn't necessarily good. Male adolescents need to have a certain amount of disrepect for authority in order to become balanced adults.

Elsa Ferreira

Birth control? What about sexually transmitted diseases?!

Shannon H.
Shannon H.6 years ago

Abstinence only is outdated and naive. By all means teach it, however do so responsibly by teaching it alongside actual methods of birth control.
I started getting sex ed in grade one (anatomy etc.) and it continued through to high school. I am now 29 and child free (by choice).

And now I'm off to save the economy...again and again ;)

Jessie H.
Jessie H.6 years ago