Far fewer American teens say they are having sex than a generation ago, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
These findings are from data collected by a survey from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the CDC. From 2011 to 2013, 44% of girls and 47% of boys between the ages of 15 and 19 said they had sexual intercourse at least once, according to the survey. This is a decline of 14% among girls and 22% for boys over the past 25 years.
In general, teen boys said they started having sex at a younger age than did girls. By age 15, 18% of boys said they had sexual intercourse, compared to 13% of girls the same age. By ages 17, the difference in sexual activity between the sexes evens out, with 44% of boys and 43% of girls saying they had had sex at least once.
The proportion of teens who said they have had sex fell from the late 1980s until the early 2000s, according to the CDC. This decrease is usually attributed to improved sex education and to greater concern by teens about AIDS and other sexually spread diseases. However, this decrease leveled off about 10 years ago. It is possible that the proportion of teens who say they have had sex may not drop much further than the levels seen now.
The report included information on the use of contraception among teens. More than one in five teen girls who are sexually active say they have used the morning-after emergency contraceptive pill, according to the CDC. This is a dramatic rise from 2002, when only about one in twelve teen girls who were sexually active used the morning-after pill. This is due to changes in the prescription status for the pills.
The CDC report, called the 2011-2013 National Survey of Family Growth, can be read online at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db209.htm.