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Health & Parenting

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More Teens Delay First-Time Sex

Teen Girls and Boys Both Wait Longer Than in Mid-1990s, Says CDC
WebMD Health News

Dec. 10, 2004 -- Teenagers are waiting longer before having sex for the first time and are more likely to use contraception when they lose their virginity, says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The trends are published in a new HHS report, Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, 2002. The data come from the National Survey of Family Growth, which is conducted periodically by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

In 2002, most girls aged 15-17 who had never been married said they had never had sexual intercourse. Only 30% said they'd had sexual intercourse.

That's lower than in the mid-1990s. In 1995, 38% of girls in the same category said they had intercourse at least once.

Among teenage girls aged 18-19, 69% said they'd had sex, a 1% increase since 1995.

The percentage of boys aged 15-17 who said they'd had sex fell from 43% in 1995 to 31% in 2002. Among boys aged 18-19, the percentage dropped from 75% to 64% during the same period.

Boys and girls who had not had sex cited the same main reasons: religion/morals and not wanting to become pregnant or to impregnate a girl.

When teens became sexually active, they were more likely to use contraception than past generations. About three quarters of teen girls and 82% of boys said they had used some form of contraception the first time they had sex, with condoms being the most common choice.

Use of birth control pills, condoms, and other hormonal methods also increased among sexually active teens.

Several ethnic patterns stood out.

Non-Hispanic black males had higher levels of condom use than white or Hispanic males. Hispanic teens of both sexes were less likely to use contraceptives the first time they had sex. And about 25% of black female teens said they hadn't used protection the last time they had sex.

The study also included some cause for concern.

Nine percent of teen females said their first intercourse was "nonvoluntary." The percentage was higher among girls who had sex for the first time at younger ages.

And while most teens said they'd been taught how to say "no" to sex before age 18, about two-thirds said they had received instructions on birth control.

Many teens also weren't turning to their parents for birth control advice. Only half of teen girls and about a third of boys said they'd asked a parent about birth control before turning 18.

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