Teenagers in the United States: Sexual activity, contraceptive use, and childbearing, 2002

Joyce C. Abma, Gladys M. Martinez, William D. Mosher, Brittany S. Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

320 Scopus citations


Objective This report presents national estimates of sexual activity, contraceptive use, and births among males and females 15-19 years of age in the United States in 2002 from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). Data are also presented from the 1988 and 1995 NSFGs, and from the 1988 and 1995 National Survey of Adolescent Males (NSAM). Methods Descriptive tables of numbers and percents are presented and interpreted. Data were collected through in-person interviews of the civilian noninstitutionalized population in the United States. Interviews were conducted with 7,643 females, 1,150 of whom were teenagers, and 4,928 males, 1,121 of whom were teenagers. Results In 2002, about 47 percent of female teenagers (4.6 million), and about 46 percent of male teenagers (4.7 million) had had sexual intercourse at least once. For never-married males, there was a significant decline from 55 percent in 1995 to 46 percent in 2002. Among never-married females, for those aged 15-17 there was a significant decline in the percent sexually experienced, and for those aged 18-19 there was no significant change. Teenagers showed increases in the use of contraceptives. About 3 out of 4 teens used a method of contraception at their first intercourse. About 91 percent of males and 83 percent of females used a method at their last (most recent) sex. Hispanic teens are most likely to have a birth before age 20 and non-Hispanic whites are least likely, with non-Hispanic black teens in the middle. Conclusion This report documents findings that may be helpful in understanding trends in teen birth and pregnancy, and STD rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalVital and Health Statistics, Series 23: Data from the National Survey of Family Growth
Issue number24
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004


  • Adolescents
  • Contraceptive use
  • National center for health statistics
  • National survey of family growth
  • Sexual activity
  • Teenagers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Family Practice


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