Teens Using Condoms, but Not Always

October 13, 2011

The largest-ever federal survey of teens' sex lives shows high rates of contraceptive use at first intercourse but inconsistent rates thereafter.

The in-person interviews with 4,662 never-married teens ages 15-19 were gathered by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics between 2006 and 2010. About 43 percent of surveyed girls and 42 percent of boys had had intercourse at least once. The new survey marks the first time there were no racial or ethnic differences in the percentage of teen girls who have had sex, as the proportion of black girls who reported sex decreased from 57 percent in 2002 to 46 percent in 2006-10.


Seventy-eight percent of girls and 85 percent of boys reported using a method of contraception the first time they had sex, with condoms being the most popular. At most recent sex, 86 percent of girls and 93 percent of boys said they had used some form of contraception. However, just 49 percent of girls and 66.5 percent of boys said they used a condom every time they had sex in the past four weeks.

The survey found more girls are using hormonal contraceptive methods not available in earlier years. While use of the pill and injectables had not changed significantly since 2002, 14 percent of girls reported using emergency contraception, 10 the contraceptive patch, and 5 percent the contraceptive ring.

For the 57 percent of girls and 58 percent of boys who said they have never had sex, the most commonly cited reason was "against religion or morals," given by 41 percent of girls and 31 percent of boys.

Lead author Gladys Martinez, a demographer and statistician, said the survey findings on oral sex will be part of a later data analysis.

The survey, "Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth," was published in Vital and Health Statistics (2011;23(31)).

To access the complete report, visit

Back to other news for October 2011

Adapted from:
USA Today
10.13.2011; Sharon Jayson

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.

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