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Condom Use Is Declining Among Sexually Active Teenagers

Child Trends has reported that in 2015, fewer than 6 in 10 high school students who were sexually active reported using condoms at their most recent sexual intercourse. Condom use among this group increased from 46% in 1991, to 63% in 2003, but has since declined, reaching 57% in 2015. The concern with this finding is that a decrease in condom use among sexually active teens increases the chances of sexually transmitted infection (STI) transmission and of unintended pregnancies.

Some significant stats:

  • In 2011, there were more than 552,000 pregnancies to teenage girls ages 15-19 in the U.S., three-quarters of which were unintended.

  • Close to 500,000 adolescents were diagnosed with chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis in 2014.

While condoms, even if used correctly, cannot provide 100% protection against the transmission of STIs and unwanted pregnancies, the use of condoms can significantly reduce the chance of either of these things from occurring.

Factors associated with a lower likelihood of condom use among teens:

  • Large age difference between partners

  • Having experience sexual abuse

  • Substance abuse

Factors associated with increased condom use among teens:

  • Higher parental education

  • More parental communication about contraception

  • Having attended a sexual education course that discusses contraception

  • Believing that condoms are effective in preventing pregnancy and STIs

Breakdown of condom use in teens by gender, race and grade:

  • In 2015, 62% of sexually active male high school students reported that they or their partner used a condom at their most recent sexual intercourse, compared with 52% of females

  • Black males were 27 percentage points more likely to report condom use at last sexual intercourse than black females.

  • Hispanic males were 14 percentage points more likely to report condom use at last sexual intercourse than Hispanic females. 

  • White males were 2 percentage points more likely to report condom use at last sexual intercourse than white females.

  • Black male students were more likely than white male students to report condom use in 2015 (74% and 58%, respectively)

  • In 2015, a slightly smaller percentage of 11th and 12th grade students used condoms than 9th and 10th grade students.

State and local estimates:

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) shows 2015 estimates of condom use among high school students in select states and cities.

Nationals Goals:

With its Healthy People 2020 initiative, the federal government has set a national goal of increasing the proportion of sexually active adolescents, ages 15 to 19 years, who use contraception that both effectively prevents pregnancy and provides barrier protection against disease. There are specific goals to increase the percentage of males and females who used a condom at first and most recent intercourse. There are additional goals to increase the percentage of adolescents who have received formal instruction and/or talked to a parent or guardian about birth control methods, HIV/AIDS prevention, and sexually transmitted infections.