"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Fewer teenagers are having sex, morning-after pill use is increasing

December 15, 2023 – Fewer older teens say they’ve had sex, in line with recent federal data. An estimated 9.4 million youth ages 15 to 19 reported having had sex, in comparison with 9.6 million in 2002 who reported having sexual experiences.

About 4 in 10 older teenagers within the U.S. say they’ve had sex, and teenage boys usually tend to use contraceptives equivalent to condoms, the newest figures show.

According to the CDC, nearly 41% of older teen girls and nearly 39% of older teen boys reported being sexually lively new report. Researchers defined sexual intercourse as vaginal intercourse with an individual of the alternative sex.

The rate of sexually lively teenage girls has remained stable since 2002, researchers wrote. However, the speed amongst adolescent boys has since declined, from nearly 46% in 2002, suggesting that the general decline is attributable to a decline amongst boys.

“Monitoring sexual activity and contraceptive use among teenagers is important because of the health, economic, and social costs of teenage pregnancy and childbirth,” the authors write. “Teenage pregnancy and birth rates have been declining since the early 1990s and have reached historic lows.”

However, the authors noted that the U.S. teen birth rate remains to be much higher than in other developed countries. The 2019 birth rates amongst 15- to 19-year-olds were:

  • 13.6 births per 1,000 girls within the US
  • 6.9 births per 1,000 girls in Canada.
  • 9.5 births per 1,000 girls in France.
  • 7.5 births per 1,000 girls in Germany

Despite the decline in U.S. teen birth rates, inequities persist, including the birth rate for Black and Hispanic teens that remains to be greater than twice that of white teens.

The data showed that teens who had ever had sex and people who had sex inside the last three or 12 months had moms whose first child was born before they were 20. Sexually experienced and recently sexually lively teenagers were also less prone to live with each biological parents or each adoptive parents.

CDC researchers analyzed data collected from 2015 to 2019 as a part of the National Survey of Family Growth. The surveys are conducted in person. Responses included 1,894 female teens ages 15 to 19 and 1,918 male teens ages 15 to 19.

While more older teenage boys reported using contraceptives in recent survey responses, girls' contraceptive use has not modified significantly in comparison with the last twelve years.

About half of older teenage girls said their partner used a condom the last time that they had sex. About 94% of older teenage boys reported that they or their partner used some type of contraception the last time that they had sex. Girls reported using contraception pills at similar rates between 2015-2019 as they did in 2002, with 52% reporting use of the pill most recently.

Meanwhile, use of emergency contraceptives equivalent to the morning-after pill, also often known as Plan B, increased from 8% in 2002 to 22% in 2015-2019.

When older teenagers were asked about their feelings about having sex for the primary time, 46% of ladies said they really wanted it, in comparison with 69% of boys. Of the ladies, 47% said that they had mixed feelings and almost 8% said they didn't want it to occur. Among boys, 27% said that they had mixed feelings and 4% said they didn't want it to occur.

The results “suggest a lower risk [sexually transmitted infections] and pregnancy, and in the case of pregnancy, there was a parallel actual decline in these rates,” the authors summarize. “However, the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases remains. For example, between 2015 and 2019, approximately 874,000 female teenagers did not use a contraceptive method when having sex for the first time.”