ATLANTA – A growing number of teen girls say they use the rhythm method for birth control, and more teens also think it’s OK for an unmarried female to have a baby, according to a government survey released Wednesday.
The report may help explain why the teen pregnancy rate is no longer dropping like it was.
Overall, teenage use of birth control and teen attitudes toward pregnancy have remained about the same since a similar survey was done in 2002.
But there were some notable exceptions in the new survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 17 percent of sexually experienced teen girls say they had used the rhythm method – timing their sex to avoid fertile days to prevent getting pregnant. That’s up from 11 percent in 2002.
They may have been using another form of birth control at the same time. But the increase is considered worrisome because the rhythm method doesn’t work about 25 percent of the time, said Joyce Abma, the report’s lead author. She’s a social scientist at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.
The survey results were based on interviews with nearly 2,800 teens ages 15 through 19 in the years 2006 through 2008.
It found that about 42 percent of never-married teens had had sex at least once in their life. Of those teens, 98 percent said they’d used birth control at least once, with condoms being the most common choice. Those findings were about the same as in the 2002 survey.
The poll also found that more teens than in years past said they agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “It is OK for an unmarried female to have a child.” Among teen boys in the current survey, 64 percent agreed or strongly agreed, while in 2002 only 50 percent did. Among teen girls that number was 71 percent, not significantly different from 2002.
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