The CDC recently released a report on sexual experience and birth control use among female teenagers in the United States. The agency used data from the National Survey of Family Growth for 1995, 2002, and 2006-2010 to look at sexual activity and birth control use among girls ages 15-19.
The percentage of teen girls who reported that they had never had vaginal intercourse rose from 48.9% in 1995 to 56.7% in the 2006-2010 period.
Of the girls who had had sex in the month before the interview, 59.8% used a highly effective contraceptive method (IUD or hormonal contraception), 16.3% used a moderately effective method (i.e., condoms alone), 6.1% used a less effective method (withdrawal, rhythm method, cervical cap, diaphragm, etc.). 17.9% did not use any contraception.
There was a trend over time toward more use of the highly effective contraceptives, but racial disparities exist. White teens were more likely than Black or Hispanic teens to use a highly effective contraceptive, and to use a contraceptive at all.
The study is limited somewhat in that the teenagers reported on their own sexual activity and contraceptive use. And since the researchers defined “sexual activity” as only heterosexual vaginal intercourse, the study also doesn’t give us information about overall trends in teen sexual activity.
The editors of the report note that the teen birth rate has also fallen to its lowest rate in several decades, and provide several suggestions for further reducing teen pregnancy, including:
- Providing evidence-based sexual and reproductive health education in schools
- Connecting teens to reproductive health services
- Having health care providers encourage use of highly effective contraceptives along with condoms
- Also having health-care professionals provide culturally competent, evidence-based sexual and reproductive health counseling on the importance of correct and consistent use of contraception and a variety of contraceptive methods.
Hat tip: More Teens Using Effective Birth Control, CDC Study Finds – Women’s Health Policy Report, National Partnership for Women and Families.
Random note: the Policy Report links to Healthy People 2020 goals for reducing teen pregnancy; I created the PubMed searches for those and other HP2020 family planning objectives. For any objective, click on “View Details” and then on the PubMed search link to find citations in the medical literature about the specific topic.