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Survey: 40% of Teens Have Had Sex

CDC Study Shows About 80% of Sexually Active Teens Use Some Type of Birth Control

By Denise Mann
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Laura J. Martin, MD

June 2, 2010 -- Fully 40% of teens aged 15 to19 have had sex at least once, and 14% of the girls and 18% of the boys say they would be a "little pleased" or "very pleased" if this resulted in a pregnancy, a new study shows.

That's according to the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth conducted by the CDC.

Researchers conducted in-person interviews of 2,767 teenagers to determine rates of sexual activity, contraceptive use, and births among U.S. teens aged 15-19 in 2006-2008.

The rate of sexually active teens did not change much from 2002, which was the last time that this survey was conducted. The survey showed that 79% of girls and 81% of boys reported using some form of birth control method during their first sexual experience. The most commonly used contraceptive method was a condom, which was also the same in 2002.

Using condoms along with a hormonal contraceptive method such as birth control pills, however, has increased since 2002, the new survey shows.

"I am encouraged to see the statistics surrounding contraceptive use. It means we are getting better at informing teens about some of the realities associated with sexual intercourse," says Kimberly Spector, an adolescent-health educator in Los Angeles.

The fact that teens would be happy about getting pregnant or getting a partner pregnant, "serves as a reminder that we have a long way to go when it comes to sex education," she tells WebMD. "The teenagers surveyed here obviously have some misconceptions about pregnancy and parenting if they aren't worried about it happening."

According to Spector, "This report shows us that if we as educators and parents are going to take a holistic approach to sex education, one that addresses all of the risks and most completely informs our students and children, we are going to have to start talking in more depth about the realities of parenting," she says. "Teenagers need to know that having babies is not just about cuteness, love, and a lasting relationship with a significant other, but also about dirty diapers, sleepless nights, increasing expenses, and often, emotional exhaustion."

SOURCES: CDC: "Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, National Survey of Family Growth 2006-2008."

Kimberly Spector, adolescent-health educator, Los Angeles.

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