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Fam Plann Perspect. 1999 Sep-Oct;31(5):212-9.

Trends in sexual activity among adolescent American women: 1982-1995.

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1
Alan Guttmacher Institute, New York, USA.

Abstract

CONTEXT:

The formulation of policies and development of programs regarding adolescent sexual and reproductive health requires up-to-date information on levels of and trends in teenage sexual activity.

METHODS:

Analysis of three NSFG surveys, carried out in 1982, 1988 and 1995, allows examination of the sexual behavior of teenage women over a 13-year time period, using comparable data for the entire time period.

RESULTS:

The proportion of adolescent women who ever had sexual intercourse increased somewhat during the 1980s, but this upward trend stabilized between the late 1980s and the mid-1990s. Throughout the period, there has been little change in the proportion currently sexually active: In each of the surveys, about 40% of all 15-19-year-olds had had sexual intercourse in the last three months. The average number of months in the past year in which sexually experienced teenagers had had intercourse declined during the 1980s, with no change in the continuity of sexual intercourse taking place between 1988 and 1995, when the mean remained at 8.6 months. Differences in teenage sexual behavior across poverty and racial and ethnic subgroups were large in the early 1980s, but narrowed over the 13-year period.

CONCLUSIONS:

Only continued monitoring will tell whether the patterns observed during 1988-1995 signify a temporary leveling off in the trend toward increasing adolescent sexual activity, stability in behavior or the beginnings of a decline. Nevertheless, the sustained level of initiation of sexual activity during adolescence is by now a recognized pattern of behavior, and is an important characteristic of the transition to adulthood in the United States.

PIP:

A study on the trends in sexual activity among adolescent American women over a 13-year period is presented. Data from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) carried out in 1982, 1988 and 1995 were used to examine the sexual behavior of teenage women. Analysis of these three NSFG surveys demonstrated an increase in the proportion of adolescent women who ever had sexual intercourse during the early to mid-1980s. This upward trend stabilized between the late 1980s and the mid-1990s. All the surveys revealed that about 40% of all teenagers age 15-19 years had sexual intercourse in the last 3 months. Large differences in teenage sexual behavior across poverty and racial and ethnic subgroups were observed in the early 1980s, but narrowed over the 13-year period. These findings suggest that trends in levels of sexual activity among American adolescents must be viewed from a long-term perspective. Only continued monitoring will show whether the patterns observed from 1988 to 1995 indicate stability in behavior, a temporary leveling off in the trend toward increasing adolescent sexual activity or the precursor of a decline. Nevertheless, the constant level of initiation of sexual activity during adolescence is by now a recognized pattern of behavior. It is considered an essential characteristic of the transition to adulthood in the US.

PMID:
10723645
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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