Original research article| Volume 82, ISSUE 3, P236-242, September 2010

Sex education and contraceptive use at coital debut in the United States: results from Cycle 6 of the National Survey of Family Growth



      The study was conducted to characterize the relationship between formal sex education and the use and type of contraceptive method used at coital debut among female adolescents.


      This study employed a cross-sectional, nationally representative database (2002 National Survey of Family Growth). Contraceptive use and type used were compared among sex education groups [abstinence only (AO), birth control methods only (MO) and comprehensive (AM)]. Analyses also evaluated the association between demographic, socioeconomic, behavioral variables and sex education. Multiple logistic regression with adjustment for sampling design was used to measure associations of interest.


      Of 1150 adolescent females aged 15���19 years, 91% reported formal sex education (AO 20.4%, MO 4.9%, AM 65.1%). The overall use of contraception at coitarche did not differ between groups. Compared to the AO and AM groups, the proportion who used a reliable method in the MO group (37%) was significantly higher (p=.03) (vs. 15.8% and 14.8%, respectively).


      Data from the 2002 NSFG do not support an association between type of formal sex education and contraceptive use at coitarche but do support an association between abstinence-only messaging and decreased reliable contraceptive method use at coitarche.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Contraception
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Bruckner H.
        • Martin A.
        • Bearman P.S.
        Ambivalence and pregnancy: Adolescents' attitudes, contraceptive use, and pregnancy.
        Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2004; 36: 248-257
        • Sandfort T.G.M.
        • Orr M.
        • Hirsch J.S.
        • Santelli J.
        Long-term health correlates of timing of sexual debut: results from a national U.S. study.
        Am J Pub Health. 2008; 98: 155-161
        • Darroch J.E.
        • Singh S.
        • Frost J.J.
        • the Study Team
        Differences in teen pregnancy rates among five developed countries: the roles of sexual activity and contraceptive use.
        Fam Plan Perspec. 2001; 33: 244-250
        • Mueller T.E.
        • Gavin L.E.
        • Kulkarni A.
        The association between formal sex education and youth's engagement in sexual intercourse, age at first intercourse, and birth control use at first sex.
        J Adolesc Health. 2008; 42: 89-96
        • Linberg L.
        • Santelli J.S.
        • Singh S.
        Changes in formal sex education: 1995���2002.
        Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2006; 38: 182-189
        • Kirby D.
        Do abstinence-only programs delay the initiation of sex among young people and reduce teen pregnancy?.
        National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Washington, DC2002
        • Bennett S.E.
        • Assefi N.P.
        School-based teenage pregnancy prevention programs: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials.
        J Adolesc Health. 2005; 36: 72-81
        • Kirby D.
        • Korpi M.
        • Barth R.P.
        • Cagampang H.H.
        The impact of the Postponing Sexual Involvement curriculum among youths in California.
        Fam Plann Perspect. 1997; 29: 100-108
      1. [PDF]; Available from:

        • Mosher W.D.
        • Martinez G.M.
        • Chandra A.
        • Abma J.C.
        • Wilson S.J.
        Use of contraception and use of family planning services in the United States: 1982���2002. Advance data from vital and health statistics; no 350.
        National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville (Md)2004
        • Orr D.P.
        • Beiter M.
        • Ingersoll G.
        Premature sexual activity as an indicator of psychosocial risk.
        Pediatrics. 1991; 87: 141-147
        • Ogle S.
        • Glasier A.
        • Riley S.C.
        Communication between parents and their children about sexual health.
        Contraception. 2008; 77: 283-288
        • Brock L.J.
        • Jennings G.H.
        Sexuality education: What daughters in their 30s wish their mothers had told them.
        Fam Relat. 1993; 42: 61-65
        • Rosenthal D.A.
        • Feldman S.S.
        The importance of importance: adolescents' perceptions of parental communication about sexuality.
        J Adolesc. 1999; 22: 835-851
        • Polaneczky M.
        Adolescent contraception.
        Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 1998; 10: 213-219
        • Kost K
        • Singh S
        • Vaughan B
        • Trussell J.
        • Bankole A
        Estimates of contraceptive failure from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth.
        Contraception. 2008; 77: 10-21
        • Tolaymat L.L.
        • Kaunitz A.M.
        Long-acting contraceptives in adolescents.
        Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2007; 19: 453-460
        • Manlove J.
        • Ryan S.
        • Franzetta K.
        Contraceptive use patterns within teenagers' first sexual relationships.
        Perspec Sexual Reproduc Health. 2003; 35: 246-255