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More Teens Using Effective Birth Control, CDC Study Finds

More Teens Using Effective Birth Control, CDC Study Finds

May 4, 2012 — The proportion of female teens having sexual intercourse has declined since 1995, while the number who use more effective contraceptive methods has risen, according to a report released on Thursday by CDC, National Journal reports (Sanger-Katz, National Journal, 5/3).

CDC researchers analyzed results of a national survey of 2,300 female teens ages 15 through 19 that was conducted from 2006 through 2010 (AP/New York Times, 5/3). They found that 56.7% of teen girls had never had vaginal intercourse, an increase of 16% since 1995.

Among teens who had had intercourse, 59.8% used a birth control method that CDC researchers considered to be "highly effective," an increase of 26% since 1995 (National Journal, 5/3). The methods that were considered to be most effective in the study include the birth control pill, patch, vaginal ring, intrauterine device, implant and injection. Condoms were considered to be moderately effective (Stobbe, AP/USA Today, 5/3).

Connections to Teen Birth Rates

CDC noted that the decline in sexual intercourse and increase in contraceptive use among teens correspond with a decrease in teen birth rates, which reached record lows in 2010. "Declines [in teen birth rates] since 1995 likely reflect significant increases in the proportion of female teens who were abstinent and, among sexually experienced female teens, increases in the proportion using highly effective contraception," CDC said (National Journal, 5/3).

CDC added that meeting the Healthy People 2020 goals for reducing teen pregnancy rates will require a "comprehensive approach to sexual and reproductive health that includes continued promotion of delayed sexual debut and increased use of highly effective contraception among sexually experienced teens."

Lawrence Friedmen, director of adolescent medicine at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine, noted that the report only looked at rates of sexual intercourse, not sexual activity. "So, it does not indicate that teenagers are really less sexually active, maybe they are not choosing intercourse," he said (Reinberg, HealthDay/Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/3).