The proportion of American women who say they have ever used emergency contraception after having sex has more than doubled since the so-called “morning after” or Plan B pills were approved to be sold without a prescription, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. reported Thursday.
The increase is among dozens of trends tracked in two reports now released from the CDC National Survey of Family Growthwhich examines survey results through 2019 about sex and contraception among teenagers as well as all women aged 15 to 44 years.
Among teens and adult women who have had sex, 26.6% told the CDC’s 2019 survey that they had ever turned to the emergency contraceptive pill, up from 10.8% in a previous round of the survey from 2006 to 2010.
Among teenage females who have had sex, 22.3% said they had ever used emergency contraception, up from 13.7% through 2010.
While emergency contraceptive pills have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration since 1998, the first options to buy them over the counter without going through a doctor were not green light by the agency until 2006.
Another type of emergency contraception is also available that relies on a doctor inserting an intrauterine device or IUD within five days of sex. Although it’s less convenient than the over-the-counter pills, the CDC says that option is being considered “very effective.”
Emergency contraception is still less common than other forms of contraception.
The most commonly reported approach remains to use a condom with a partner, at 94.5%, and 79.8% of women said they had used the pill.
Fewer teenagers say they have had sex
The CDC’s survey found that 38.7% of male teenagers say they have ever had sex. That’s down from 2010 results, when 41.8% of male teenagers said they’d ever had sex. The rate was lowest among white teenagers at 33.1%.
Among male teenagers under the age of 18, 23.2% say they have had sex, while the number rises to 60.2% after the age of 19.
Among those who said they had not had sex, the most commonly chosen reason, chosen by 35.3% of all male teenagers, was that they “haven’t found the right person yet”, followed by 26.2%, who cited their religion or morality for not having sex.
In contrast, the proportion of female teenagers who say they have ever had sex has fallen by a smaller amount. About 40.5% say they have had sex in the latest survey through 2019, down from 42.6% through 2010.
Overall, 88.0% of women ages 15 to 44 say they have ever had sex, a figure similar to the CDC’s previous findings.
Among male teenagers who have had sex, the proportion who say they usedduring the first time they had sex has increased.
Condoms remain the most common method used by male teenagers when having sex for the first time, increasing from 79.6% in 2010 to 84.5% in 2019.
IUD use has tripled since 2010
Among women ages 15 to 44, the CDC’s 2019 survey found that 21.4% of women had ever relied on IUDs for contraception.
This is almost three times higher than the 7.7% of women who told the survey in 2010 that they had relied on this type ofwhich is inserted into the uterus by a doctor and lasts for years.
An earlier release of the results from the same survey focusing on current contraceptive use had found that 10.4% of women reported having long-acting reversible contraceptives, a category that includes the IUD as well as implants that can be placed in the arm.
Among women who had tried but stopped using an IUD, the CDC’s study found that 32.8% cited dissatisfaction with the device — not a reason other than deciding to try for a baby — as why they got it removed.
Side effects from IUDs were among the most common reasons cited by 64.4% of women who stopped using them. While IUDs rank as one of the most effective methods of reversible contraception, forms of IUDs that use copper can cause cramping and heavier periods. Other types of IUDs that use progestogen, a hormone also used in birth control pills, can sometimes lead to abdominal pain.
Both types of IUD also have some less common risks, FDA sayincluding the possibility of a slightly higher risk of a sexually transmitted infection known as pelvic inflammatory disease in the first three weeks after they are inserted.