Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 2000. SD 4.3 Contraceptive Use by Teens

01/01/2000

Sexual intercourse without contraception puts a teen at risk of unintended pregnancy and of contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS. The vast majority of teens do not want to become pregnant. Data from a national survey show that among teens who
had first intercourse at age 17 or younger, fewer than 1 in 100 wanted a pregnancy to occur at that time. This was true for both males and females and for both blacks and whites.71 Even among adolescents who give birth as a teenager, only 34 percent of the births are
intended.72

Condoms and birth control pills are the most common forms of contraception used by sexually active teenagers.73 In 1999, over half (58 percent) of sexually experienced students in grades 9 through 12 reported use of a condom during their last sexual intercourse, while only 16 percent reported use of the birth control pill (see Tables SD 4.3.A and SD 4.3.B).

Condom use among sexually experienced students increased between 1991 and 1999 from 46 percent to 58 percent (see Table SD 4.3.A). Use of birth control pills has remained relatively steady from 1993 to 1999 at 16 to 18 percent, with some subgroup differences that are discussed below (see Table SD 4.3.B).

Differences by Gender. Female students are less likely than male students to report having used a condom during their last intercourse (51 percent of females versus 66 percent of males in 1999).

Differences by Grade. Condom use among 12th-grade students is lower than among students in the earlier grades. The decrease is largest among young women, dropping from 50 percent to 41 percent between the 11th and 12th grades for 1999. In contrast, in 1999, only 12 percent of sexually experienced 9th graders reported use of the pill, while 25 percent of 12th graders reported its use (see Figure SD 4.3).

Differences by Race.74 Black students report the highest use of condoms, while white students report the highest use of the pill. In 1999, white students were more likely to have used the pill during their last sexual intercourse (21 percent) than were either black students (8 percent) or Hispanic students (8 percent) (see Tables SD 4.3.A and SD 4.3.B). It is important to note that the data presented here include only those teens who are in school. Teens out of school are likely to have lower rates of contraceptive use because their access to education regarding the risks associated with unprotected sex, as well as guidance on how to obtain protection, is more limited.

 

71 Moore & Peterson, August 1989. See also preliminary results of research from the 1995 National Survey of Adolescent Males and the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth, The Urban Institute Fact Sheet (May 1, 1997), New Data on Sexual Behaviors of Teenage Males.
72 In the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth, the percentage of births intended at the time of conception to women ages 15 through 44 that occurred 5 years prior to the survey interview were as follows: 69 percent to all mothers, 34 percent to mothers under 20, 61 percent to mothers ages 20 through 24, 78 percent to mothers ages 25 through 29, and 80 percent to mothers ages 30 through 44. Abma, J.C., Chandra, A., Mosher, W.D., Peterson, L., & Piccinino, L. 1997. Fertility, Family Planning, and Women's Health: New Data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth. National Center for Health Statistics, Vital Health Statistics 23 (19), Table 14.
73 Peterson, L.S., 1995, Contraceptive Use in the United States: 1982-90. Advance Data, No. 260, Division of Vital Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data from the National Survey of Family Growth.
74 Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races.

 

Table SD 4.3.A Percentage of currently sexually activea high school students in the United States who reported using a condom during last sexual intercourse, by gender, grade, and race and Hispanic origin: 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, and 1999

  1991 1993 1995 1997 1999
  Total Male Female Total Male Female Total Male Female Total Male Female Total Male Female
Total 46 55 38 53 59 46 54 61 49 57 63 51 58 66 51
Grade
Ninth 53 56 50 62 63 59 63 66 59 59 59 58 67 70 63
Tenth 46 57 36 55 63 46 60 68 52 59 65 53 63 70 55
Eleventh 49 57 41 55 65 46 52 57 49 60 65 55 59 69 50
Twelfth 41 51 33 47 52 41 50 57 43 52 61 43 48 56 41
Race and Hispanic originb
White 47 55 38 52 59 46 53 58 48 56 62 49 55 63 48
Black 48 57 39 57 64 48 66 72 61 64 68 59 70 75 65
Hispanic 37 47 27 46 55 37 44 56 33 48 55 40 55 66 43

a “Currently sexually active” is defined as having had sexual intercourse during the 3 months preceding the survey.
b Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
Sources: Data for 1990: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1990-1991 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, Table 2, p. 47; data for 1993: Kann, et al., 1995, Table 20; data for 1995: Kann, et al., 1996, Table 28; also, unpublished tabulations from L. Kann, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; data for 1997: Kann, 1998, Table 28.

 

Table SD 4.3.B Percentage of currently sexually activea high school students in the United States who reported birth control pill use during last sexual intercourse, by gender, grade, and race and Hispanic origin: 1993, 1995, 1997, and 1999

  1993 1995 1997 1999
  Total Male Female Total Male Female Total Male Female Total Male Female
Total 18 15 22 17 14 20 17 13 21 16 12 20
Grade
Ninth 9 8 11 11 10 13 8 8 8 12 11 13
Tenth 14 10 17 12 9 16 12 8 17 9 6 13
Eleventh 17 12 22 15 13 17 16 12 19 15 12 18
Twelfth 26 23 29 25 21 29 24 19 30 25 17 31
Race and Hispanic originb
White 20 17 24 21 17 25 21 17 25 21 16 26
Black 15 11 21 10 8 12 12 9 15 8 3 12
Hispanic 12 10 15 11 14 9 10 7 13 8 5 11

a “Currently sexually active” is defined as having had sexual intercourse during the 3 months preceding the survey.
b Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
Sources: Data for 1993: Kann, et al., 1995, Table 20; data for 1995: Kann, et al., 1996, Table 28; data for 1997: Kann, et al., 1998, Table 28.

 

Figure SD 4.3 Percentage of currently sexually active a high school students in the United States who reported using a contraceptive during their last sexual intercourse, by grade and method: 1999

a “Currently sexually active” is defined as having had sexual intercourse during the 3 months preceding the survey.
Source: Kann et al., 1998, Table 28.

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