Fewer teen girls in the United States are having sex, and more of those who do are using contraception, according to a new government survey. The study found that more than half of teen girls ages 15-19 have never had sex.
The survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that 56.7 percent of older teen girls had never had vaginal intercourse. That's an increase of 16 percent since 1995 and reflects a steady downward trend in teen sex. Of those teens who had had sex, 59.8 percent were using what CDC considers "highly effective" forms of contraception, an even larger increase of 26 percent.
The increase in sexual abstinence and increase in contraception use are both consistent with the declining rates of teen pregnancy in the U.S., which have dropped 44 percent since 1990. Still, U.S. teens have children more often than teenagers in other developed countries.
"In 2010, the U.S. teen birth rate declined to the lowest level in seven decades of reporting and reached record lows for teens of all racial/ethnic and age groups," the CDC team writes in the agency's weekly report on death and disease. "Declines since 1995 likely reflect significant increases in the proportion of female teens who were abstinent and, among sexually experienced female teens, increases in the proportion using highly effective contraception."