Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published their latest National Survey of Family Growth, one of the most comprehensive collections of information about contraceptive use, sexual practices and childbearing. While a few news sources reported on the Survey’s findings related to teenage sexual behavior, the CDC’s investigation revealed several other interesting trends in the sexual and reproductive health of Americans. My next few articles will review some of their findings.
First, here is some more information on the methods used to obtain the information in this survey. Understanding where data comes from and recognizing ways that it could be flawed or incomplete is extremely important for us as consumers, patients and socially conscious members of society. Maintaining a reasonable level of skepticism is part of being an empowered reader.
- Data was collected through both face-to-face interviews and questionnaires completed by the participant on a computer; 7,356 women and 6,139 men taken from 85 randomly selected areas in the U.S. were interviewed for the study, as were 2,767 were teenagers aged 15-19.
- The survey was performed by household, thus not taking into account our nation’s population of homeless teenagers the way a school-based survey might.
- This edition of the report only identifies trends of the groups as a whole, not taking into account differences in race or ethnicity. The study will be re-released later in this year with a more complete analysis, and a larger, more randomized sample size.
Interesting Findings: Contraceptive Use
- The condom is the most commonly used method of birth control among sexually experienced teenage females; 95 percent had used one at least once.
- Use of the birth control pill ranks 3rd most common among sexually experienced teens. The percent of females (age 15-19) who have ever used the pill declined from 61 percent in 2002 to 55 percent in 2006-2008.
It is possible that this change is due to the greater number of hormonal contraceptives that have become available to young women in recent years, most notably the vaginal ring and the patch.