Relax, Teens Aren't "Doing It" As Much As We Think (Says CDC Report)

While your teen might be able to, numbers can't tell a lie!

Teens Aren't As Sex-Crazed We Think WeHeartIt

If you believe how popular TV shows represent it, you'd think 100 percent of American teens have had sex.

However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the actual percentage is just under half of that. 

Their Vital Signs report revealed that 43 percent of male and female teens (ages 15-19) reported engaging in sexual intercourse, compared to 54 percent of teens back in 1991. Continuing on that trend, around 9 percent of teens used two methods of birth control during sex, up from just 5 percent of teens two decades ago. 


Statistically, teens today are having less sex than we did in high school and despite what trendy teen mom reality shows depict, they're giving birth less frequently, as well. The data concerning teen sexual activity is only one factor of the study's greater purpose, which is to assess the effectiveness of sexual education in preventing teen pregnancies. 

65 percent of girls and 53 percent of the boys surveyed had undergone formal education about abstinence and birth control. The vast majority of teenagers knew what they were doing; just 5 percent of girls and 13 percent of boys hadn't received formal sex ed before having sex. CDC officials aren't entirely satisfied, though. Although the nationwide teen birth rate has fallen 37 percent since 1991, it is still nine times higher than that of most developed countries.


Perhaps, this is related to the fact that while 90 percent of teens were using a form birth control the last time they engage in sexual activity, only 5 percent of them used the most effective type method offered.

The most common birth control used are condoms and while that's great, it's more effective if paired with additional methods. If you aren't sure what's available to your teen, sites like Bedsider make researching simple. It's important that you and your teen realize that  birth control isn't one size fits all, so what works for a friend may not work for your daughter. Factor in things like how often they remember to take other things like vitamins (do you forget?), if so the pill may not be for her. Is some weight gain OK? Does she want to keep "Aunt Flow" around? All of these are important in finding the right fit for your daughter. 

What we've found is that the implication here is that sexual education actually does work. Its effects might unfold more slowly than expected, but teens are listening. Thanks to the ubiquitous nature of so-called "pregnancy pacts," and television shows similar to MTV's Teen Mom or CW's Gossip Girl (although no longer on the network, it's now on Netflix), it's easy to conclude that teenagers nowadays are having a ton of unprotected sex because popular entertainment encourages it.

As the CDC's study suggests, though, it's far more likely that the sensationalism makes them think twice before doing the deed.