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Sexual Activity and Education

Narrative

In 2009, 46.0 percent of high school students reported having had sexual intercourse at least once, while the remaining 54.0 percent were abstinent. Sexual activity increased with grade level: 31.6 percent of 9th grade students reported having had sexual intercourse, compared to 40.9 percent of 10th graders, 53.0 percent 11th graders, and 62.3 percent of 12th graders. No significant difference was observed between males and females with respect to the proportion who reported sexual activity within each grade level. However, males are significantly more likely to report having had sexual intercourse for the first time before age 13 than females.

Contraceptive use also varies significantly by sex. Overall, 68.6 percent of males and 53.9 percent of females reported condom use at last intercourse. Use of a hormonal contraceptive (by self or partner) was less common than condom use and was reported by 18.3 percent of males and 27.4 percent of females. Overall, fewer than 9 percent of adolescents used both a condom and a form of hormonal contraception during last sexual intercourse.

According to data from the National Survey of Family Growth, 96 percent of females and 97 percent of males received some form of formal sex education before the age of 18.1 This includes information on topics such as how to say no to sex, methods of birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, and/or how to prevent HIV/AIDS. By individual topic, formal sex education on sexually transmitted diseases was the most prevalent (92 percent of males and 93 percent of females), while methods of birth control was the least common (62 percent of males and 70 percent of females).

1 Martinez G, Abma J, Copen C. Educating teenagers about sex in the United States. NCHS data brief, no 44. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2010.

Graphs

This image is described in the Data section.

high school students who had intercourse graph

This image is described in the Data section.

contraceptive method used among high school students graph

Data

High School Students Who Have Ever Had Sexual Intercourse, by Grade Level and Sex, 2009
Grade level Percent of Students
Total Female Male
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 1991-2009 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. Accessed July 2011.
Total 46.0 45.7 46.1
9th Grade 31.6 29.3 33.6
10th Grade 40.9 39.6 41.9
11th Grade 53.0 52.5 53.4
12th Grade 62.3 65.0 59.6
Contraceptive Method Used* Among Currently Sexually Active, High School Student, by Sex and Type of Method, 2009
Contraceptive Method Percent of Students
Total Female Male
*Used during last sexual intercourse by student or their partner. **Hormonal contraceptives refers to either birth control pills or Depo-Provera.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 1991-2009 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. Accessed July 2011.
Condom 61.1 53.9 68.6
Hormonal Contraceptive** 22.9 27.4 18.3
Both a condom and hormonal contraceptive** 8.9 9.8 7.8

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