Teens Today Postponing Sex, Using Condoms

Good news! In spite of America’s highly sexualized culture, most teens are postponing sex until their late teens or older, and when they do start, they typically use some kind of birth control, a new federal study shows.

The data, based on in-person interviews with 4,662 never-married teens ages 15-19, was collected by the National Center for Health Statistics in 2006-2010 for its National Survey of Family Growth.

But while teens are using condoms more often, they are not doing so consistently.

The Numbers:

* 78 percent of girls and 85 percent of boys said they used a contraceptive the first time they had sex.

* 86 percent of girls and 93 percent of boys said they used a contraceptive the most recent time they had sex.

* Only 49 percent of girls and 66.5 percent of boys said they used a contraceptive every time they had sex in the past four weeks.


* Since 2002, the percentage of teen boys using condoms the first time they had sex increased 9 percentage points; their use of condoms in combination with another method rose 6 percentage points.

So that’s excellent news. And here’s more:

* Among those surveyed, 57 percent of girls and 58 percent of boys said they had not had sexual intercourse. These numbers are dramatically higher than those seen in 1988, when 72 percent of girls and 77 percent of boys said they were sexually active by ages 18 or 19.

Among the teens who say they’ve never had sex, the most frequent reason given is “against religion or morals,” cited by 41 percent of girls and 31 percent of boys.

Significant Long-Term Decline In Teen Sex

From The Washington Times:

These sexual activity rates are similar to what was seen in the 2002 survey, and reflect a “significant long-term decline” over the last 20 years, said Gladys Martinez, lead author of the report released Wednesday by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

“These trends are so encouraging … because they are moving in the right direction,” in spite of the sexualized culture, said Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association.

The NCHS report should “bust a number of myths” about teens and sex, said Bill Albert, chief program officer at the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Teen Birth Rate Still High

There is of course another aspect to teenage sexual activity.

As The Washington Post reports, after rising for many years, teen pregnancy and birth rates declined steadily between 1991 and 2005. But the pregnancy rate jumped about 3 percent and the birth rate increased by about 5 percent between 2005 and 2007, triggering widespread alarm and an intense debate over whether the emphasis on abstinence-until-marriage sex education or so-called “comprehensive” sex education that includes information about contraceptives was to blame.

And that debate is still raging.

Nontheless, the results of this new survey are encouraging.

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Photo Credit: pondluna

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LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

Kasia Y.
Kasia Y.3 years ago

Sex education, taught at the objection of conservatives, has done much to inform teens, and with that knowledge they are able to make smart decisisons. The recent increase in teen pregnancy is a direct reflection of the lack of sex education as the war on non-fascists in the conservative movement picks up speed. These people won't be happy until there is no sex education and a massive problem with teen pregnancy.

Deanna Leduc
Deanna Leduc3 years ago

I pearsonally dont think teens are being taught enough about sex, but in all honesty I dont think there is ever "enough" of someone being taught about sex, I know alot of girls who are younger and just starting to date and mess around,I find that i have to tell and explan things to them, I dont mind having to do that because like I suggested I think its best to know as much as you can about sex and sexual activity

I am 16, and yes engaging in sexual activity, I however would never dream of not using a form of protection that is trusted(ie NOT the pull out method) I would also never believe something a boy told me just because he told me I could trust it.

I am also quite sappy when it comes to intimacy i believe all intimacy should be with someone you care about and trust, I believe you should talk things through with your loved one(no matter the age) and not rush in to anything you are not comftrable with.

Also I would like to say, well said Louise D!

Nick Scales
Nicholas Scales4 years ago

sex and contraception is a choice. No religion or self worthys have the right to force its use/non use. - it takes two to tango and be aware of the risks of STI's and pregancy.

Duane B.
.4 years ago

Baby steps. (No pun intended!)

Kathryn B.
Kathryn B.4 years ago

This is good news.

Brenda P.
Brenda P.4 years ago

I think they lie about this statistics.