Over Half of U.S. Teens Have Had Sexual Intercourse by Age 18, New Report Shows

For Immediate Release: June 22, 2017

Contact: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics, Office of Communication (301) 458-4800
E-mail: paoquery@cdc.gov

Sexual Activity and Contraceptive Use Among Teenagers in the United States, 2011–2015. National Health Statistics Report No. 104

An estimated 55% of male and female teens have had sexual intercourse by age 18 and approximately 80% of teens used some form of contraception at first sex, according to a new report by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

The report, “Sexual Activity and Contraceptive Use Among Teenagers in the United States: 2011-2015,” features the most recent data from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), conducted by NCHS, and compares the new data to past NSFG data. The data represent all teens in the U.S. and were derived from interviews with 4,134 male and female teens 15-19 years of age over the period 2011 through 2015.

The report documented the following findings:

  • Among teen females aged 15-19, 42% had ever had sex, and among teen males, the percent was 44%.
  • These percentages have gradually declined since 1988 when 51% of female and 60% of male teens had ever had sex.
  • In 2011-2015, nearly 3 in 10 teens (30% of female teens and 29% of male teens) had sexual intercourse at least once in the past three months.
  • A small percentage of teens had their first sexual intercourse with someone they had “just met” (female teens: 2%; male teens: 7%), whereas the majority had a first partner with whom they were “going steady” (female teens: 74%; male teens: 51%).
  • Virtually all sexually experienced female teens had used some method of contraception, and this increased from 98% of female teens in 2002 to 99% in 2011-2015. This level has been sustained since the earliest published data in this series, in 1995, when it was 96%.
  • The most commonly used method among teens in 2011-2015 remained the condom (reported by 97% of teen females), followed by withdrawal (60% ) and the pill (56%).
  • Among those teens who had not yet had sex, the most common reasons for abstaining were: “it was against religion or morals,” “haven’t found the right person yet,” and “don’t want to get (a female) pregnant.”

The full report, “Sexual Activity and Contraceptive Use Among Teenagers in the United States: 2011-2015,” is available at https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr104.pdf