Sexual Activity and Contraceptive Use Among Teenagers in the United States: 2011-2015

June 22, 2017

Questions for Joyce Abma, Ph.D., Social Scientist and Lead Author on “Sexual Activity and Contraceptive Use Among Teenagers in the United States: 2011-2015

Q: Is the bottom line here in this study that teens are less sexually active than in the past?

JA: Yes. Although this has changed very gradually, fewer teens have ever had sex than was the case three decades ago. In the late 1980s, just over half of female teens and 61% of male teens had had sex, and the most recent data through 2015 show this percent is well under half: 42% for females and 44% for males.- So males have had a particularly large decrease in the percent who have ever had sex during the teen years.

Over the past 3 decades, since 1988, the percent of teens who had ever had sex has been declining gradually. (decreasing from over half – 51% for females and 60% for males, to under half – 42% for females and 44% for males in 2011-15). Since 2002, however, the decline slowed and there has been no significant change for female or male teens. And this plateau continued through the most recent time period, 2011-2015.


Q: Are the teens of today also more likely to use contraception than past generations?

JA: Yes. Although even about 3 decades ago, in the late 1980s, contraceptive use was common among teens – for example 84% of males used a method at last sex in 1988 – they have become increasingly more likely since then. In the most recent data, 2011-2015, 95% of males used a contraceptive method at last sex. Related to this increase among females is another big change across the time period: the development and availability of a wider variety of contraceptives for females. These include Depo-Provera injectable, implants, emergency contraception, the patch, and more recently, the IUD has been re-designed and recommended for teens. These newer hormonal methods are starting to be used more commonly, but use of the pill remains common as well among female teens.


Q: With such a sensitive topic, do you meet with a lot of resistance in trying to collect this data?

JA Actually, the response rate for the survey is 70%, meaning of the people eligible for the survey, 70% agree to participate and complete it. Generally, people recognize the importance, validity and value of the survey. Those who participate tend to find it an interesting and positive experience. And many topics are covered, including some questions about education, health services, attitudes and opinions, questions about children, and relationships.


Q: Do these findings include teens with same-sex partners?

JA: No, this report covers only sexual intercourse with opposite-sex partners. The purpose of the report is primarily to understand risk behaviors for pregnancy among teens, thus the focus is only on opposite sex sexual activity.


Q: Any other important points of note?

JA: There are several interesting findings in this report, both in terms of sexual activity as well as contraceptive use among teens. For example, teens who had not yet had sex – which is over half of all teens — were asked to identify the main reason they hadn’t yet had sex, from 5 possible reasons. Female and male teens were very similar in the reasons they chose. Female and male teens both chose “against religion or morals”, followed by “don’t want to get (a female) pregnant”, and “haven’t found the right person yet” as the most common reasons. So female and male teens seem to be thinking along the same lines when considering the issue of not being sexually active.

As for contraceptive use, recently the IUD and contraceptive implants have been re-designed and are recommended by reproductive health professionals for teens to reduce the chances of pregnancy. These methods, referred to as “LARC” – for “long-acting reversible contraception”– are important because they offer protection for multiple years, they don’t require regular action on the part of the teen, and their failure rates are extremely low. These methods are still relatively rarely used among teens but are being used more often: 6% of teens had ever used either of these two methods as of the 2011-15 data.


Current Contraceptive Use and Variation by Selected Characteristics Among Women Aged 15–44: United States, 2011–2013

November 10, 2015

A new NCHS report describes current contraceptive use among women of childbearing age (ages 15–44) during 2011–2013. Current contraceptive use is defined as use during the month of interview, not for a specific act of sexual intercourse.

This report’s primary focus is describing patterns of contraceptive use among women who are currently using contraception, by social and demographic characteristics. Data from 2002 and 2006–2010 are presented for comparison.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • Among women currently using contraception, the most commonly used methods were the pill (25.9%, or 9.7 million women), female sterilization (25.1%, or 9.4 million women), the male condom (15.3%, or 5.8 million women), and long-acting reversible contraception (LARC)—intrauterine devices or contraceptive implants (11.6%, or 4.4 million women).
  • Differences in method use were seen across social and demographic characteristics. Comparisons between time points reveal some differences, such as higher use of LARC in 2011–2013 compared with earlier time points.

Trends in Long-acting Reversible Contraception Use Among U.S. Women Aged 15–44

February 24, 2015

Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), which include intrauterine devices (IUDs) and subdermal hormonal implants, are gaining popularity due to their high efficacy in preventing unintended pregnancies. IUD use was more common among U.S. women in the 1970s before concerns over safety led to a decline in use; however, since approval of a 5-year contraceptive implant in 1990 and redesigned IUDs, there has been growing interest in the use of LARCs for unintended pregnancy prevention.

Using data from the 1982, 1988, 1995, 2002, 2006–2010, and 2011–2013 National Survey of Family Growth, a new NCHS report examines trends in current LARC use among women aged 15–44 and describes patterns of use by age, race and Hispanic origin, and parity.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • Use of LARCs declined between 1982 and 1988, remained stable through 2002, and then increased nearly five-fold in the last decade among women aged 15–44, from 1.5% in 2002 to 7.2% in 2011–2013.
  • The percentage of women using LARCs has remained highest among women aged 25–34, with more than twice as many women aged 25–34 (11.1%) using LARCs in 2011–2013 compared with women aged 15–24 (5.0%) and aged 35–44 (5.3%).
  • After decreasing between 1982 and 1988 and remaining stable from 1988 through 1995, LARC-use patterns diverged among Hispanic, non-Hispanic white, and non-Hispanic black women.
  • Women who have had at least one birth use LARCs at a higher rate compared with women who have had no previous births, and this difference has increased over time.

Current Contraceptive Status Among Women Aged 15–44: United States, 2011–2013

December 15, 2014

Nearly all women use contraception at some point in their lifetimes, although at any given time they may not be using contraception for reasons such as seeking pregnancy, being pregnant, or not being sexually active. Using data from the 2011–2013 National Survey of Family Growth on contraceptive use in the month of the interview, a new NCHS report provides a snapshot of current contraceptive status among women aged 15–44 in the United States.

In addition to describing use of any method by age, Hispanic origin and race, and educational attainment, patterns of use are described for the four most commonly used contraceptive methods: the oral contraceptive pill, female sterilization, the male condom, and long-acting reversible contraceptives, which include contraceptive implants and intrauterine devices.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • In 2011–2013, 61.7% of the 60.9 million women aged 15–44 in the United States were currently using contraception. The most common contraceptive methods currently being used were the pill (16.0%), female sterilization (15.5%), male condoms (9.4%), and long-acting reversible contraceptives (7.2%).
  • Use of long-acting reversible contraceptives was higher among women aged 25–34 (11.1%) compared with women aged 15–24 (5.0%) and aged 35–44 (5.3%).
  • Current condom use was similar across the three Hispanic origin and race groups shown in this report (about 9%).
  • Current use of female sterilization declined, and use of the pill increased with greater educational attainment. Use of long-acting reversible contraceptives was similar across education, about 8%–10%.

 


Women’s Contraception Reports

February 14, 2013

Two new reports released by the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) give insight into the use and methods of contraception among women aged 15-44.

The first report, Use of Emergency Contraception Among Women Aged 15-44: United States, 2006-2010, focused on trends and variation in the use of emergency contraception and reasons for use among sexually experienced women. The data from the report found that young adult women aged 20-24, who were never married, Hispanic or or non-Hispanic white women that attended college were most likely to have ever used emergency contraception; about one in four had done so.

Some other key findings from the study include:

  • Most women who had ever used emergency contraception had done so one (59%) or twice (23%).
  • Almost 1 in 5 never-married women (19%), 1 in 7 cohabiting women (14%), and 1 in 20 currently or formerly married women (5.7%)  had ever used emergency contraception.
  • About one in two women reported using emergency contraception because of fear of method failure (45%), and about one in two reported use because they unprotected sex (49%).

Chart of the percentage of sexually experienced women using emergency contraception.

The second report, Contraceptive Methods Women Have Ever Used: United States, 1982-2010, highlighted the number of contraceptive methods women have used since 1982 and reasons for stopping use.  The report also followed trends among race, education, and religious affiliations.

Key findings from the report:

  • The percentage of sexually-experienced females who have used the pill has remained stable since 1995 (82%).
  • The percentage who’ve ever used Depo-Provera, a 3-month injectable contraceptive has increased from 4.5% of women in 1995 to 23% in 2006-2010.
  •  Ever-use of the contraceptive patch increased from about 1% in 2002 to 10% in 2006-2010.  The contraceptive ring had been used by 6.3% of women in 2006-2010.

chart2