|For Immediate Release
December 10, 2004
|Contact: CDC National Center
for Health Statistics,
Office of Communication
Teens Delaying Sexual Activity;
Using Contraception More Effectively
New Data on Contraceptive Use Among Adults
Sexual activity declined significantly for younger teenage girls and for
teenage boys between 1995 and 2002, and teen contraceptive use improved in
significant ways, according to a new study released today by the Department
of Health and Human Services (HHS). The study compares new findings from the
2002 National Survey of Family Growth with the previous survey conducted in
The proportion of never-married females 15-17 years of age who had ever
had sexual intercourse dropped significantly from 38 percent in 1995 to 30
percent in 2002. At age 18-19, 68 percent had had intercourse in 1995,
compared with 69 percent in 2002. For male teens, the percent of those who
were sexually experienced dropped significantly in both age groups: from 43
percent to 31 percent at age 15-17, and from 75 percent to 64 percent at age
18-19. These and other data suggest that teenagers are delaying sex until
somewhat older ages.
“There is much good news in these results,” said HHS Secretary Tommy G.
Thompson. “More teenagers are avoiding or postponing sexual activity, which
can lead to sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy or emotional
and societal responsibilities for which they are not prepared.”
At their first premarital intercourse, teens were most likely to choose
condoms for birth control – 66 percent reported using a condom when they
became sexually active. Teens are more likely in recent years to use
contraception when they begin having intercourse—79 percent in 1999-2002, up
from 61 percent in the 1980’s. Teens were also more likely to have used
contraception at their most recent intercourse in 2002 (71 percent in 1995,
compared with 83 percent in 2002). These changes in sexual activity and
contraceptive use are consistent with the downward trend in teen pregnancy
and births over the past decade.
The National Survey of Family Growth is conducted periodically by CDC’s
National Center for Health Statistics to collect data on factors which
influence the American family including data on marriage, divorce, and
cohabitation; contraception; infertility; pregnancy outcomes and births. Data
are collected in household interviews with a nationally representative sample
of women (since 1982) and men (beginning in 2002) ages 15-44.
Another report from the survey was released today on trends in
contraceptive use among women 15-44 years of age. The leading methods of
contraception in the United States in 2002 were the oral contraceptive pill
(11.7 million women), female sterilization (10.3 million), the male condom
(6.9 million), male sterilization (3.5 million), and the Depo-Provera
injectable (2.0 million). Together, these five methods accounted for 90
percent of contraceptive users.
For young women, the leading method is the oral contraceptive pill; for
women 35 and older, the leading method is female sterilization. Method choice
varies sharply by such characteristics as education. For example,
college-educated women are four times as likely to use the pill, four times
as likely to rely on male sterilization, and one-fourth as likely to use
female sterilization, as women who did not graduate from high school.
Nearly all women of reproductive age have used contraception: 98 percent
of all women who had ever had intercourse had used at least one contraceptive
method. About 82 percent of women have used the oral contraceptive pill at
some time in their lives; about 90 percent have had a partner use the male
Two new reports present these and other detailed findings from the survey.
Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and
Childbearing, 2002, and Use of Contraception and Use of Family
Planning Services in the United States, 1982-2002, are available on the
CDC website at www.cdc.gov/nchs.
HHS has joined with communities, schools, parents and teenagers in efforts
to prevent teen pregnancy and supports programs which translate research on
teenage pregnancy prevention into information for the public, practitioners,