WEDNESDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- A new national survey
finds that significantly more teenaged males are using condoms when
they have sex for the first time.
Since 2002, there has been an increase of 9 percentage points in
young males who reported using a condom the first time they had
sex, with 80 percent now taking that precaution. There was also an
increase of 6 percentage points in males using a condom in tandem
with their female partner using a hormonal method of birth
Teenaged girls also showed some changes in contraception use: 2
percent used a hormonal method of birth control
other than the Pill in 2002, while 6 percent said they made
that choice by 2010. The alternate methods included contraceptive
patches, injectable devices and emergency contraceptives.
Coupled with statistics that show a continuing trend toward
slightly less sexual activity overall among youths aged 14 to 19,
it did not surprise the researchers that teen birth rates have
"That helps explain why the teen birth rate has lowered," said survey author Gladys Martinez, a statistician with the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. In 2009, the teen birth rate hit an historic low of 39.1 births per 1,000 teenaged females, a 37 percent decrease from a peak rate of 61.8 births per 1,000 teenaged females in 1991.
But, she said, there are still troubling numbers in the report,
which was released Wednesday.
"Black males still have higher levels of sexual experience than white and Hispanic males, and Hispanics have lower levels of contraceptive use," she noted.
The findings come in the results of a 2006-10 survey of adults
and children, including 4,662 teenagers. Forty-three percent of
females who'd never been married said they'd had sex at least once,
compared with 42 percent of males. Those numbers are roughly the
same as they were in a 2002 survey.
It's not clear why some of the sexually active teens don't use
contraceptives since the survey didn't ask that question, Martinez
said, although future research will ask about that.
The surveys did ask the teens who didn't have sex why they
avoided it. The most common reason was that it was against their
religion or morals; 41 percent of the females in that group said
that was their most important reason, compared with 31 percent of
There wasn't much difference compared to 2002 in the percentage
of teens who said they'd be at least somewhat pleased if a sexual
encounter resulted in a pregnancy: 13 percent of females and 19
percent of males said they'd be a "little pleased" or "very
The findings suggest that the dip in sexual activity that began
in the 1990s hasn't reversed itself, said Jennifer Manlove, a
senior research scientist with Child Trends, a non-profit research
organization that focuses on children and families. On the other
hand, she said, "we're no longer seeing the big declines in sexual
activity that we saw in the 1990s."
Researchers speculate that the big dip in sexual activity that
occurred in that decade may have had something to do with the AIDS
epidemic or an increased focus on abstinence in sex education, she
She said that while the new numbers about contraceptive use are
promising, "there's still room to improve," especially when it
comes to consistent use of birth control. Considering the role of
the Pill and other medical devices, she said, "doctors need to
focus on finding the right method that works for females, and keep
them on the more effective methods [once] they are sexually
For details about
teen sexual health, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.