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Press Release

For Immediate Release: June 2, 2010
Contact: National Center for Health Statistics
(301) 458-4800

CDC Report Looks at Trends in Teen Sexual Behavior; Attitudes Toward Pregnancy

About 4 in 10 never–married U.S. teenagers aged 15–19 have had sexual intercourse at least once in their lifetime, according to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The data from the National Survey of Family Growth also indicate the percentage of teens who have had sex has not changed significantly since the last survey was conducted in 2002.

The report, "Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, National Survey of Family Growth, 2006–08," from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics showed that over 42 percent of never–married teenagers have had sex at least once in their lifetime.  The percent of never married older teens (aged 18 and 19) who have had sex is about double that of younger teens (aged 15–17).  Among females aged 15–17 years, about 28 percent said they had ever had sex compared to 60 percent for females aged 18 and 19.  For males, 29 percent of those aged 15–17 said they had ever had sex compared to 65 percent for those aged 18 and 19.

The report also found:

  • An estimated 26 percent of females and 29 percent of males reported in 2006–08 that they have had two or more sexual partners in their lifetime, no change from 2002.
  • Among never–married teens, nearly 8 in 10 females (79 percent) and nearly 9 in 10 males (87 percent) used some form of contraception during their first sexual intercourse. For the most part, teens’ use of contraceptives has changed little since 2002, and the condom remained the most commonly used method. 
  • In 2006–08, 52 percent of never married teen females and 71 percent of never married teen males who had sex in the four weeks before the interview used the condom every time they had sex.
  • Less than half of never–married teen males (47 percent) reported they would be "very upset" if they got a partner pregnant, while 58 percent of never–married teen females said they would be very upset if they got pregnant.
  • Twenty–two percent of sexually experienced teen girls and 24 percent of sexually experienced teen boys said they would be "a little pleased" or "very pleased" if they were to get pregnant (or get a partner pregnant.)
  • Approximately 71 percent of females and 64 percent of males said they "agree" or "strongly agree" that "it is okay for an unmarried female to have a child."  The percentage for males has increased sharply since 2002, when 50 percent said they agreed or strongly agreed with this question.  The percentage for females has remained the same over that period of time.
  • The rhythm method, or use of periodic abstinence, increased in 2006–08, as 17 percent of teens reported having ever used this method up from 11 percent in 2002.

The full report is available at


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