Sexually active teens are using condoms more often, but inconsistently, finds a federal survey that asked its largest-ever sample of teens about their sex lives.
It found that the percentage of teen boys using condoms the first time they had sex was 80%, up 9 percentage points from 71% in 2002. The data, based on in-person interviews with 4,662 never-married teens ages 15-19, was collected by the National Center for Health Statistics in 2006-2010 for its National Survey of Family Growth.
Of the 2,284 girls and 2,378 boys surveyed, 43% of girls said they had had sexual intercourse, compared to 51% in 1988. Among boys, 42% in the new survey said they had had intercourse, compared to 60% in 1988.
The responses show high rates of contraceptive use among both sexes the first time they have intercourse (78% of girls, 85% of boys) and the most recent time (86% of girls and 93% of boys). The condom was the most popular contraceptive method, cited by 96% of girls.
Even though more teens used a condom the first time they had sex, just 49% of girls and 66.5% of boys said they used one every time they had sex in the past four weeks. The difference between responses from girls and boys is likely because the boys ages 15-19 answer about themselves, while the girls answered about their partners, who may not be teens, says lead author Gladys Martinez, a demographer and statistician.
Among the 57% of girls and 58% of boys who say they have never had sex, the most frequent reason given is "against religion or morals," cited by 41% of young women and 31% of young men.