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Study: Teen sexual behaviour and condom use

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The Daily

Wednesday, August 20, 2008
1996/1997 to 2005

In 2005, 43% of teens aged 15 to 19 reported that they had had sexual intercourse at least once, down from 47% in 1996/1997.

The decline was due to young women, among whom the proportion who reported having had sexual intercourse fell from 51% to 43%. The proportion of young men who had had intercourse remained unchanged at 43%.

Throughout the period, the percentage of teens reporting sexual intercourse was higher at older ages. Around two-thirds of those aged 18 or 19 had had intercourse, compared with about one-third of those aged 15 to 17.

The proportion of teens who reported becoming sexually active at an early age also declined. In 2005, 8% reported having had sexual intercourse before they were 15, down from 12% in 1996/1997. The proportion fell among girls, but did not change significantly among boys.

About one-third of teens aged 15 to 19 who had had intercourse in the year before the survey reported having done so with more than one partner, roughly the same percentage as in 1996/1997. A higher percentage of boys than girls reported multiple partners, a finding consistent with other studies.

Having multiple partners was more common among older teens.

Between 2003 and 2005 (the only years for which nationally representative and comparable data are available), the proportion of sexually active teenage girls who reported using a condom rose from 65% to 70%; among teenage boys, the proportion remained around 80%.

Condom use was more common among teens aged 15 to 17 than among those aged 18 and 19 in 2005.

Sexual intercourse at an early age, having multiple partners and unprotected sex put teens at risk of sexually transmitted infection and of unwanted pregnancy.

Note: Data for this study came from the 1996/1997 National Population Health Survey and the 2003 and 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey numbers, including related surveys, 3226 and 3236.

The article, "Trends in teen sexual behaviour and condom use," which is part of Health Reports, Vol. 19, no. 3 (82-003-XWE, free), is available from the Publications module of our website.

For more information about this article, contact Michelle Rotermann (613-951-3166;, Health Information and Research Division.

For more information about Health Reports, contact Christine Wright (613-951-1765;, Health Information and Research Division.