While the statistic may be hard to believe in our jaded, over-sexed world, a study from the CDC found that a majority of teen girls under age 18 do not have sex.
The study surveyed the years 2006-2010 and found that 57% of girls between 15 and 19 had never had sex; younger teens between 15 and 17 were even less likely to have had a sexual experience: a full 73% of that age group had never had sexual relations. The portion of teens who said they had not had sex was about the same across all ethnic groups.
The statistic represents an impressive increase from 49 percent in 1995.
Additionally, those girls who do become sexually active are far more likely to use a reliable form of birth control such as an intrauterine device, the pill, a patch, ring or injectable contraception — an increase from 47 percent who said the same in 1995. Sixty percent of the sexually active girls 15-19 use them, though white girls are still far more likely to use them than either Black or Hispanic girls.
The U.S. teen birth rate has accordingly declined 44% between 1990 and 2010, though it remains one of the highest in the developed world. In 2010, about 368,000 births occurred among teens ages 15 to 19.
The CDC advocates for sex and reproductive health education programs in schools and community-based organizations. It also supports parents' efforts to speak with their children about sex. Additionally, the organization says that health care providers should be informed that no contraceptive method should be withheld from teens solely on the basis of age.
Teen pregnancy depends on a number of societal and personal factors. Teenage pregnancy rates vary between countries because of differences in levels of sexual activity, cultural norms, general sex education provided and access to affordable contraceptive options. Sub-Saharan Africa has some of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the world, with a rate of 143 per 1000 in some sub-Saharan nations.
Teen mothers face additional pregnancy-related risk factors, such as low birth weight babies, lower educational levels, higher rates of poverty, and social stigma associated with teen parenthood.
The United States and United Kingdom have the highest level of teenage pregnancy, while Japan and South Korea have the lowest (2001) among developed nations.