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Sexual Activity and Education

Narrative

In 2011, 47.4 percent of high school students reported having had sexual intercourse at least once, while the remaining 52.6 percent were abstinent. Sexual activity increased with grade level: 32.9 percent of 9th grade students reported having had sexual intercourse, compared to 43.8 percent of 10th graders, 53.2 percent of 11th graders and 63.1 percent of 12th graders (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site). Within each grade, no difference was observed between males and females in the proportion having had sexual intercourse, with the exception of 9th grade, where males were significantly more likely to report having had sexual intercourse than females (37.8 versus 27.8 percent). Males were also significantly more likely to report having had sexual intercourse for the first time before age 13 than females (9.0 versus 3.2 percent; data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site).

Contraceptive use also varies significantly by sex. Overall, 67.0 percent of males and 53.6 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 16.6 percent of males and 30.0 percent of females. Less than 10 percent of adolescents used both a condom and a form of hormonal contraception during last sexual intercourse. Among females, 15.1 percent reported not using any method to prevent pregnancy at last sexual intercourse, compared to 10.6 percent of males.

According to data from the National Survey of Family Growth, 16 percent of females and 28 percent of males had their first experience of sexual intercourse with someone they had just met or with whom they were "just friends" (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site).1 There were large differences by race and ethnicity in the percentage of females whose first sex was with someone they were not regularly involved with. Hispanic female teenagers were less likely than their non-Hispanic White or non- Hispanic Black counterparts to have had first sex with someone they had just met (8.7, 16.0, and 21.0 percent, respectively). There was no significant difference between non-Hispanic Black and non-Hispanic White females in the percentage who had ''just met'' their first sexual partner.

1 Martinez G, Copen CE, Abma JC. Teenagers in the United States: Sexual activity, contraceptive use, and childbearing, 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 23(31). 2011

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, 2011
Grade level Percent of Students
Total Female Male
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1991-2011 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. Accessed June, 2012.
Total 47.4 45.6 49.2
9th Grade 32.9 27.8 37.8
10th Grade 43.8 43.0 44.5
11th Grade 53.2 51.9 54.5
12th Grade 63.1 63.6 62.6
Contraceptive Method Used* Among High School Students who are Currently Sexually Active, by Sex, 2011
Contraceptive Method Percent of Students
Total Female Male
*Used during last sexual intercourse by student or their partner
**Hormonal contraceptive refers to birth control pills, Depo-Provera or other injectable, Nuva Ring or other birth control ring, Implanon or other implant, or any IUD.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1991-2011 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. Accessed June, 2012.
Condom 60.2 53.6 67.0
Hormonal Contraceptive** 23.3 30.0 16.6
Both a condom and hormonal contraceptive** 9.5 12.4 6.6
Did not use any contraceptive 12.9 15.1 10.6