Are Fewer Teen Girls Having Sex?

Rise in the number of virgin female teens

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) No parents want to see their children grow up too fast or have sexual experiences before they're ready. Whatever parents concerns are, a new study shows that teen girls are having less sex and waiting longer before their first experience.

Tackling the problem of teen childbearing requires further promotion of delayed sexual debut and increased use of highly effective contraception, says lead researcher Dr. Crystal Pirtle Tyler, a health scientist at the CDC, and the study authors.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked at data from the National Survey of Family Growth, an in-person survey, for the years of 1995, 2002, and 2006-2010. They found that in 2006-2010, 57% of girls between the ages of 15 to 19 reported that they haven't had sex, compared to just 48.9% in 1995.

"Delaying first-time sex can prevent teen pregnancies."

The CDC study also found an increase in the number of teens having sex with “highly effective” contraception, such as intrauterine device (IUD) or hormonal methods such as birth control pills. (Other methods include "moderately effective," such as condoms, and "less effective," including the rhythm method, withdrawal or diaphragm.)

Approximately 60% of teens reported using highly effective contraception in 2006-2010, compared to just 47% in 1995. One group in particular was more likely to use a highly effective method: non-Hispanic whites, compared to non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanic teens.

The researchers report that younger teens, 15-17 years of age, had less sex than older teens, 18-19 years of age: 72.9% for younger teens, compared to 36.5% for 18- and 19-year-olds.

The researchers found that race made no difference in the likelihood of a female teen having had sex: 57.6% of white teens reported that they hadn’t had sex, 53.6% of black teens, and 56.2% of Hispanic teens. This marked a significant rise in abstinence for blacks (a 34% increase) and Hispanics (29% increase), especially compared to whites (15% increase).

The dip in the number of sexually active teens reflects another trend: a declining teen birth rate. The authors note that fewer American teens gave birth in 2010, compared to rates seen in the last seven decades, and the trend was seen in all racial and age groups.

Still, the U.S. teen birth rate is troubling, say many experts, because it’s the highest among all developed countries – including Great Britain, France, Canada and Sweden – at 368,000 births a year for teens between the ages of 15-19 years. 

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 8, 2012
Last Updated:
May 8, 2012