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Teens having less, and safer sex – US study

Thursday, July 20, 2017

International News

Fewer American teenagers are having sex, and those who are, are being safer.

The percentage of teenagers aged 15-19 who had ever had sex has continued a downward trend since 1988, according to a US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study.

Research has also shown that contraceptive use has significantly increased among young people who are sexually active.

Survey results reveal 90% of sexually active teenage girls use contraception now, compared to 80% in 1988. For boys, this rate is even higher, increasing from 84% in 1988 to 95% in 2011-2015.

The most popular forms of modern contraception for American teenagers continue to be condoms and the pill.

While use of long-acting reversible contraception (such as IUDs and contraceptive implants) is increasing, they are still used by fewer than 6% of sexually active teen girls.

The emergency contraceptive pill has seen significant growth between 2002 and 2011-2015, from 8% to 23% of teen girls having used it.

This increase in contraceptive use has coincided with dropping teen birth rates across the US, which saw an all-time low of 22.3 births per 1000 female teens in 2015.

New Zealand tends to follow international trends, and teen reproductive health is no different.

In 2016, New Zealand’s teen birth rate fell to just 16 births per 1000 female teens aged 15-19.

Meanwhile, the teen abortion rate for this age group also decreased, to a record low of 9 abortions per 1000 girls.

Evidence also shows that teenagers are generally thinking carefully about the first time they have sex – in regards to both contraception and choice of partner.

The US research indicates that teenagers having sex for the first time are highly likely to use contraception, with 81% of females and 84% of males in the 2011-2015 period using some form of contraception.

Three quarters of teenage girls had sex for the first time with someone they were “going steady” with, compared to just 2% who had sex with someone they had just met.

Teen contraception in New Zealand

There is limited New Zealand data on contraceptive use to compare to the US data, however figures for 15 to 19 year olds attending a Family Planning clinic for the first time for contraception show that:

First Visit for Contraception

Read the full CDC study here.

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.

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