Study: Teens Are Using Condoms More Often
USATODAY.COM - Sexually active teens are using condoms more often, but inconsistently, finds a federal survey released today that asked its largest-ever sample of teens about their sex lives.
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. It found that 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.
Of the 2,284 girls and 2,378 boys surveyed, 43% of girls (4.4 million) and 42% of boys (4.5 million) said they have had sexual intercourse.
The responses show high rates of contraceptive use among both sexes the first time they have intercourse (78% of girls, 85% of boys) and the most recent time (86% of girls and 93% of boys). The condom was the most popular contraceptive method, cited by 96% of girls.
The first time they had sex, 80% of boys used a condom. But just 49% of girls and 66.5% of boys said they used a condom every time they had sex in the past four weeks. The difference between responses from girls and boys is likely because the boys ages 15-19 answer about themselves, while the girls answered about their partners, who may not be teens, says lead author Gladys Martinez, a demographer and statistician.
Amber Madison, 28, who lectures on sex and advised parents in her 2010 book Talking Sex With Your Kids, says she thinks she has an idea about what's happening with condom use.
"People are using condoms the first time they have sex to protect from pregnancy. They're probably not using any other method," she says.
But in a relationship, when sex is more regular, Madison says girls are more likely to be on birth control.
"Because they got tested or trust their partner, they decide not to use condoms. Someone in a steady relationship is more likely to be on birth control than the first time they had sex," she says.
The survey did not ask about oral sex, which will be part of a later data analysis, Martinez says.
John Santelli, an adolescent medicine specialist at Columbia University in New York, says the new data show "small changes in the right direction and probably explains the small decline in birth rates we're seeing."
Similar outcomes were shown for young men. As for sexual experience, 51% of young women said they had sexual intercourse in 1988, compared with 43% in the new report. For young men, 60% had intercourse in 1988 compared with 42% in the new survey.
Among other findings:
•The percentage of black teen girls who have had sex decreased from 57% in 2002 to 46% in 2006-2010, marking the first time there were no racial or ethnic differences in the percentage of teen girls who have had intercourse.
•Among contraceptives used by young women, more were using a wider variety of hormonal methods than was available in earlier years; use of the pill and injectable hormonal methods haven't changed significantly since 2002 but a higher percentage said they had ever used emergency contraception (14%), the contraceptive patch (10%), and the contraceptive ring (5%).
•Among the 57% of girls and 58% of boys who say they have never had sex, the most frequent reason given is "against religion or morals," cited by 41% of young women and 31% of young men.
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