Sexual activity and contraceptive practices among teenagers in the United States, 1988 and 1995.

J. C. Abma, F. L. Sonenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: This report presents national estimates of sexual experience, contraceptive use, and selected aspects of sexual behavior among never-married males and females aged 15-19 years in the United States. Data are presented for the years 1988 and 1995 according to age, race and Hispanic origin, progress in school, and other relevant characteristics. Tables present trends over time as well as comparisons between subgroups. METHODS: Descriptive tables of numbers and percents are presented and interpreted. Data for females are from the National Survey of Family Growth, and data for males are from the National Survey of Adolescent Males. RESULTS: About half of all never-married teenagers, about 17.5 million, had had sexual intercourse at least once in 1995. For male teenagers, this represents a decline since 1988, and for females, the proportion was stable across the two time points. The proportion of teen females who had sex before age 15 years increased. In 1995, 29 percent of females and 19 percent of males had unprotected recent sexual intercourse. About one-quarter of teens used no contraceptives during their first sexual intercourse. The condom remained the most popular method of contraception. Although teenagers' use of oral contraceptives dropped between 1988 and 1995, use of injectable and implant contraceptives began. Teenagers with more highly educated mothers, mothers who delayed their first birth beyond age 19 years, those from two-parent families, and those whose schooling was on schedule, were less likely to engage in sexual risk behaviors. These teenagers, along with those who were Protestant, also experienced the largest improvements across time in sexual risk behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-79
Number of pages79
JournalVital and health statistics. Series 23, Data from the National Survey of Family Growth
Issue number21
StatePublished - Apr 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Family Practice


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