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More Teenagers Using The Rhythm Method

June 3, 2010

An increasing number of teen girls say they use the rhythm method for birth control, and many teens feel it’s okay for unwed females to have a baby, according to a government survey released on Wednesday.

The report may help explain why the teen pregnancy rate is no longer dropping like it once was.

However, teenage use of birth control and teen attitudes toward pregnancy have remained about the same since a similar survey was done in 2002.

In the new survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 17 percent of sexually experienced teen girls say they had used the rhythm method. That’s up from 11 percent in 2002.

Although, the increase is worrisome because the rhythm method doesn’t always work — about 25 percent of the time — said lead author Joyce Abma, a social scientist at the CDC National Center for Health Services.

The results of the survey were based on in-person interviews with nearly 2,800 teens between the ages of 15 and 19 between 2006 and 2008. Questions were asked by trained female interviewers.

The survey found about 42 percent of never-married teens had said they had sex at least once in their life. Of those teens, 98 percent said they had used birth control at least once. The findings were about the same as in 2002.

The increase in the use of the rhythm method may be part of the reason for recent trends in teen birth rates. Teen births declined steadily from 1991 to 2005, but rose from 2005 to 2007. It dropped again in 2008.

“We’ve known the decline in childbearing stalled out. This report kind of fills in the why,” Bill Albert, a spokesman for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, told The Associated Press.

Teen attitudes may be a big part of it. About 64 percent of teen boys said its okay for an unmarried female to have a baby. About 50 percent thought it was okay in the 2002 survey. More than 70 percent of teen girls said it was okay, compared to 65 percent in 2002.

The survey was conducted during a time when some highly publicized pregnancies of unmarried teens were in the spotlight. Former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol Palin, and kid sister to Britney Spears, Jamie Lynn, both had unmarried teen pregnancies.

Also, the 2007 movie “Juno,” a happy-ending tale of a teen girl’s accidental pregnancy, was popular at the time.

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