When you’re in high school, it can often feel as though everyone is having lots and lots of sex. Well, everyone but you, that is. You hear about things that happened at that one party you were invited to but chose not to attend, for whatever reason, where one person slept with another person (allegedly) and, while you are glad that you have been excluded from this particular narrative, you also can’t help but feel a little left out.
Well, according to a new study from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you might not have cause to feel quite so left out by your perception of your peers’ sexual activity. On Thursday, the CDC released information gathered in interviews with 4,134 teens from 2011 to 2015 on their sexual activity and behavior, revealing that 55 percent of teens said they had had sex by the time they turned 18.
Initially, this data might seem as though it confirms everything you’ve always suspected–it indicates that over half of all teens have had sex, after all–but these numbers are actually lower than they have been in the past. Plus, when you break it down between genders, the numbers become a little less intimidating. According to the study, 42 percent of teen girls and 44 percent of teen boys reported having sex at least once, which is down by 9 percent for girls and 16 percent for guys since the CDC began tracking teens’ sexual activity in 1988.
The findings also show that teenagers are using contraception more than before, especially girls–99 percent of teen girls who have had sex reported using a contraceptive method. This is great news, obviously, but the study also said that the contraception methods used might not be super effective.
The most common form of contraception, unsurprisingly, were condoms (which have an 18 percent failure rate), followed by the pullout method (which basically isn’t a form of contraception, as far as we are concerned, and has a 22 percent failure rate), followed by the birth control pill (which has a 9 percent failure rate). Still, the fact that contraception use has increased overall is encouraging. It has been linked in previous studies to increased sex education classes and, interestingly enough, TV shows like 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom.
So. Whether you’re having sex or not, and you’re a teenager, don’t worry about what it means. The only thing it indicates, if anything, is that, either way, you’re just like most of your peers.
What do you think of this study? Do you think it applies to your life or not? Let us know in the comments!