HealthDay News — Fewer than half of U.S. teenagers aged 15 to 19 are having sex, a rate dramatically lower than it was a quarter-century ago, according to a brief published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

The survey involved 2,125 boys and girls aged 15 to 19 drawn from a national sample, as well as an additional 1,770 men and women aged 20 to 24. 

Only 44% of girls and 47% of boys between the ages of 15 and 19 had sexual intercourse at least once from 2011 to 2013, the researchers found. That’s down from 51% of girls and 60% of boys in 1988, study author Gladys Martinez, PhD, a demographer/statistician with the NCHS, told HealthDay.


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Only 18% of boys and 13% of girls had sex by 15, but that increased to about 44% of boys and girls at age 17. By age 19, two-thirds of both boys and girls had had sex, the findings showed. About 79% of girls and 84% of boys used contraception when they first had sex, but they were much more likely to use contraception if they began having sex later in their teens.

The condom remains the most common contraceptive method used by teenagers, with 97% of girls reporting using a condom at least once. 

About 60% of girls said they had used withdrawal as a contraceptive method, and 54% had taken birth control pills. The survey also found an uptick in the number of girls who had ever used emergency contraception, from 8% in 2002 to 22% in 2011-2013.

Reference

1. Martinez GM, et al. NCHS Data Brief. 2015.