Condom Use Among Teenagers Declines
According to the Centers for Disease Control reported by Child Trends, in 2015, fewer than six in ten high school students who were sexually active reported using condoms at their most recent sexual intercourse. Condom use among this group increased from 46 percent in 1991, to 63 percent in 2003, but has since declined, reaching 57 percent in 2015. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs, including HIV/AIDS) and unintended pregnancy are major health issues that can be consequences of unprotected sexual activity. In 2011, there were more than 552,000 pregnancies to teenage girls ages 15-19 in the United States, three-quarters of which were unintended. Nearly half a million adolescents were diagnosed with chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis in 2014.Condoms, if used correctly, can greatly reduce (though not eliminate) the risk of both STIs and unintended pregnancies. Although the majority of adolescents believe that “sex without a condom is not worth the risk,” many teens are misinformed about the protection that condoms provide against STIs and HIV/AIDS.
Several factors are associated with lower likelihood of condom use among teens, including a large age difference between partners, having experienced sexual abuse, and substance abuse Conversely, factors associated with increased condom use in sexual relationships include higher parental education, more parental communication about contraception, having attended a sexual education course that discusses contraception, and believing that condoms are effective at preventing pregnancy and STIs. In 2011-2013, 97 percent of sexually experienced female teens had used a condom at least once.
Condom use at the most recent sexual intercourse, as reported by sexually active high school students, increased from 46 percent in 1991, to a high of 63 percent in 2003. Since then, there has been a small but steady decrease, to 57 percent in 2015.
Differences by Gender
Reported condom use differs by gender. In 2015, 62 percent 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 percent of females. Black males were 27 percentage points more likely than black females to report condom use at last sexual intercourse, Hispanic males were 14 percentage points, and white males were 2 percentage points more likely than their female counterparts to report using a condom.
Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin
Black male students were more likely than white male students to report condom use (74 and 58 percent, respectively) in 2015. No other race/ethnicity differences were statistically significant.
Students were asked the following question: “The last time you had sexual intercourse, did you or your partner use a condom?” Estimates here are limited to those who are currently sexually active (i.e., had sexual intercourse within the last three months). Note that students may also use other methods of contraception instead of, or in addition to, condoms.