According to a recent government survey of teen sex entitled “Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, National Survey of Family Growth, 2006-2008”, teens aged 15-19 increasingly are relying on the rhythm method for birth control. Among sexually active teens, 17% reported using the rhythm method in 2006-2008, compared to just 11% in 2002.
The rhythm method, also known as periodic abstinence, is moderately effective as a birth control method. Approximately 25% of women who rely on the rhythm method will become pregnant in a year. (Approximately 85% of women who use no birth control method at all will become pregnant in the first year.) However, the rhythm method is much less effective than birth control pills or condoms, which have failure rates of less than 5% per year if used properly.
The new findings coincide with both an increased number of teen pregnancies and an increased acceptance of unwed pregnancy by teens. In the survey, 2/3 of all teens said they agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “It is OK for an unwed female to have a child”. Sex-education messages to teens may have to change if this trend is to be reversed.