Sexual Health of Adolescents and Young Adults in the United States

In recent years, there has been a reduction in rates of teen pregnancy, births, and abortions.  Similarly there has been a drop off in the share of adolescents engaging in sexual activity. Despite this shift, recent data indicate that the rates of unintended pregnancy and Sexual Health infections (STIs) among teens and young adults remain higher in the U.S. than in other developed nations and are considerably higher among certain racial and ethnic minorities and in different geographic regions in the nation. This fact sheet provides key data on sexual activity, contraceptive use, pregnancy, prevalence of STIs, and access to reproductive health services among teenagers and young adults in the U.S.

Contraception

  • Three quarters (74%) of teen girls reported learning about birth control in school. Half (50%) of teen girls ages 15 to 18 discussed contraception with a health care provider, compared to 77% of young adult women (ages 19 to 24). Among adolescents, 53% of females and 45% of males talked about contraception or STIs with their partner before their first time having sex.
  • 22% of teen females and 14% of teen males reported they did not use contraception at first intercourse. Research has shown that those who reported condom use at their sexual debut were more likely to engage in protective behaviours than those who did not report condom use at first intercourse.
  • Two thirds (66%) of sexually active teen males and half (53%) of teen females said they had used a condom at last sexual intercourse
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