Fewer Canadian teens are reporting having sexual intercourse, and the decline appears to be greater among young women than young men, according to a new study.
In 2005, 43 per cent of teens aged 15 to 19 reported having intercourse at least once, compared to 47 per cent in 1996-1997, Statistics Canada said Wednesday.
The study found that the decline was due to young women, where the proportion that reported having had intercourse decreased from 51 per cent to 43 per cent.
Meanwhile, the proportion of young men who reported having intercourse remained the same at 43 per cent.
The proportion of teens who reported having had intercourse before the age of 15 also declined from 12 per cent in 1996-1997 to eight per cent in 2005.
Statistics Canada analyst Michelle Rotermann said the study did not look at motivations behind the different behaviours, so it’s not clear why there are differences between young men and women.
As for condom use, the proportion of sexually active teen girls who reported using a condom increased from 65 per cent in 2003 to 70 per cent in 2005, while the proportion remained unchanged at around 80 per cent among teen boys.
Overall, condom use was more common among younger teens, with 81 per cent of 15- to 17-year-olds reporting using a condom the last time they had intercourse in 2005, compared to 70 per cent of teens aged 18 and 19.
The study said previous research has shown that condom use tends to decrease with age and to be less common among users of oral contraceptives. Rotermann said research has also found there is a correlation between condom use and the duration of an individual’s relationship.
“We do know from other studies . . . that individuals who are in shorter term relationships are more likely to use a condom than individuals in longer term relationships,” she said in an interview Wednesday from Ottawa.
“It’s possible that youth between the ages of 18- and 19-year-olds are in longer term relationships and therefore they perceive their risk for sexually transmitted disease infection to be lower, and so unfortunately they’re not using a condom.”
The data for the study came from the 1996-1997 National Population Health Survey and the 2003 and 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey.
Rotermann said about 4,500 respondents between the ages of 15 and 19 provided data for the 1996-1997 survey, compared to about 10,000 respondents for each of the 2003 and 2005 surveys.