Despite All the Panic, Millennial Teens Have Much Less Sex Than Their Elders Did

Congratulations, GenXers: You were better than the millennials at getting laid.



According to popular culture, today's teens are a bunch of "hookup"-scarred heathens, trapped in a sordid world of casual flings with one another and exploitation at the hands of online predators. In reality, teenagers today are having less sex than they have for decades. New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center for Health Statistics shows that the number of (unmarried) 15- to 19-year-olds who've had sex dropped by 14 percent for girls and 22 percent for boys in the period between 1988 and 2013. 

As of 2011-2013, 44 percent of teen girls surveyed and 47 percent of teen boys said they had sexual intercourse‚ÄĒcompared to 51 and 60 percent, respectively, of their 1988 counterparts. Or, to put it another way, 4.3 million millennial girls and 4.8 million boys, compared to 5 million and around 6.15 million in the late '80s. Congratulations, last of the Gen X'ers: you are better than the youngest of the millennial cohort at getting laid. 

But kids these days are better about practicing safe sex: 79 percent of the girls surveyed and 84 percent of the boys said they had used some sort of contraceptive method the first time they had sex, with condoms ranking the most popular. In 1988, only 71 percent of male teens and 69 percent of female teens used contraception when they first had sex. 

After condoms, the birth control pill and the pull-out method are now the most popular teen contraception choices. Fifty-four percent of 15- to 19-year-old girls surveyed said they had at some point been on the pill, which is similar to the 2002 rate; the rates of contraceptive-implant use (2 percent) and intrauterine device, or IUD, use (3 percent) were also relatively stable.

Emergency contraception (EC) use over this period, however, rose significantly: from 8 percent in 2002 to 22 percent in 2011-2013. This coincides, albeit barely, with the Food and Drug Administration's 2013 decision to allow the EC known as "Plan B One-Step" to be sold without a prescription to anyone aged 15 and above. A better explanation is probably found in a general increase in awareness about and acceptance of EC in America over the past decade or so; among all women of childbearing age, the number who had ever used EC rose from 4.2 percent in 2002 to roughly 11 percent by 2010. 

Whatever the method, increased contraception usage among teens is paying off. The teen birth, pregnancy, and abortion rates have all fallen precipitiously over the past 25 years, according to the Guttmacher Institute

Guttmacher Institute

NEXT: Our Kids Deserve a Free-Range Country

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  1. It must be the really unattractive outfits the the millennials seem to like so much.

    1. Unattractive? Forsooth! Does your pulse not quicken at the sight of these fine speci-Men?

  2. Ha! You can’t fool me. The local news has already brought me up to speed on rainbow parties and vodka soaked tampons.

  3. So my only question is if they are using birth control more, and understand about EC better,
    why the fuck are they having LESS sex?

    1. Because fear of getting thrown in jail if a girl has regrets over a drunken hookup tends to put a damper on things.

      1. I know that would sure as hell incentivise me to keep it in my pants if I were a single millenial.

    2. I understand the paperwork involved in the consent agreement is pretty onerous. Much less hassle to go on line and take care of business yourself.

      1. When I was young we had to buy these things called magazines. Now it’s free!

        1. I feel sorry for the generations coming of age. I remember the first nudie mag I had. And then turning 18 so I could actually buy a Penthouse or rent a video.

          Now its pornhub and 3 chicks, 2 black guys and a midget. All for free!

          1. You watch low res stuff like pornhub instead of 1080p free sites like eporner?

            1. Download speeds are a bitch in the sticks.

    3. Shrill feminists+effeminate “men”= nobody’s turned on?

      1. You forgot the part that they can’t carry on a social interaction without checking their gizmo every 5 seconds. Its such a turn-on when they look into your eyes for that brief second before returning to their twitter feed.

        1. That reminds of the time bouncy-ball player Gilbert Arenas went on a date with a woman who arrived dressed in an extremely garish, African-themed outfit. When she went to the restroom, he tweeted that he felt like he was having dinner with the Queen of Zamunda from “Coming to America.”

          1. That’s actually pretty awesome

            1. And that guy seems to be an internet celebrity of sorts


        2. Also, don’t forget that the average hipster has the sperm count of a hamster.

        3. Also, it’s important to note that hipsters are abstaining from sex ironically.

    4. Masturbation is very underrated.

      1. This^^

        It is a damn good thing my wife likes porn almost as much as I do!

    5. They didn’t count virtual sex. Also, without a car it’s hard to get to your gf or bf.

    6. “why the fuck are they having LESS sex?”

      Various factors:
      Internet access to porn lowering the need and reducing the curiousity
      Lower ownership of cars and drivers licenses lowering opportunity
      Higher online interaction reducing the amount of actual physical interaction lowering opportunity
      Helicopter parents and/or no free range kids lowering opportunity
      50 million abortions over 40 years reducing the pool of high horny and low impulse control teens

      1. Internet access to porn lowering the need and reducing the curiousity

        After viewing porn, people are less curious about sex? Really?

        1. I don’t know about you, and I certainly don’t speak for Warty, but after wanking it 5 times in an afternoon, most guys get kinda bored and want to find something else to do. Something that doesn’t involve their dicks.

          1. most guys get kinda bored

            Get bored with wanking. If, let’s say, Asa Akira, step out of the monitor and appeared before you in the flesh, ready to bone, you’re telling me you’d reject her? (Ok, you might think she is the avatar of some nefarious Internet-based demon or something…but whatever.) Sex with one’s self and sex with another human being are qualitatively different. Indeed, the desire to have sex with someone else is doubly powerful as it fulfills physiological and psychological needs.

            Think of it this way. Does your appetite for good food lessen or increase after watching a cooking show? If our desires worked this way, we’d see a correlation between the proliferation of cooking shows, food-based cable networks, etc. and a decline in restaurant attendance. I’m willing to bet that isn’t so. Claims that easier access to pornography reduce sexual desire in young men doesn’t pass the sniff test, imo. If it is indeed true that young men are having less sex than previous generations, I would suggest that a 3rd variable is involved.

            1. Your cooking show substitute has a major flaw.

              If I watch a cooking show I am more hungry. But not if I’ve downed a bag of chips (proverbial masturbation) while in the process.

            2. wanking to porn is easy, anyone can do it. convincing a girl to get naked with you, after you fill out all the required legal paperwork, is difficult.

    7. So my only question is if they are using birth control more, and understand about EC better,
      why the fuck are they having LESS sex?

      Maybe they are just lying to nosy people they don’t know about how much sex they are having? Or not responding at all to those inquiries if they are having sex, thus having a non-representative polling sample? Or not counting as sex things that prior generations did count as sex, such as BJs?

    8. Because most of my kin are turning into Hikikomori.

  4. Self-reported survey answers?

    Uh huh. I’ll just stick with my assumption that polls are idiotic and that The Kids These Days are probably having about the same amount of humping action that they’ve always had.

    1. Perhaps any biases in the survey are the same now as they were in 1988, when the self-reported rates of premarital sex were higher.

      Of course, maybe the pollsters are still calling people at their land lines.

      Or maybe pollsters have gotten creepier.

      “So, you ever *done it,* wink wink, nudge nudge? What about in the back seat of your parents’ car? Do you think survey-takers are sexy?”

      1. “So, you ever *done it,* wink wink, nudge nudge?

        Say no more, say no more!

        1. …What’s it like?

    2. Yes, but the polls from the 1980’s were also self-reporting. So either there is less humping or there is more lying on polls.

      1. Or there has always been lying on polls, both then, now, and all times in between.

        1. Yep.

          Not only do people lie to polls, but even when they try to be honest, they’re are often wrong.

          People’s ability to objectively measure their own behavior is horribly distorted by all sorts of issues. The more ‘personal’ the issue is, the worse it gets, and hardly anything is more personal than Sex.

          In general, i’d go with your assumption – people are probably fucking just as much (or as little) as they did before. And whatever slight variation there is probably has little to do with the generational factors people assume.

          1. I’ll just chalk up any variations to your mom. Because she sure pumps up the numbers. Probably even more than my mom. You know, they should get together sometime.

            1. Vagina singularity?

              1. More like a Big Bang!

                I’m sorry, I’ll show myself out.

          2. I was able to objectively measure when I lost my virginity (if the hooker didn’t count)

            1. Hookers always count. Count their money on the way out.

      2. It also depends on what they are lying about. If saying “Yep, I fuck” is considered cool, than there will be more folks who lie that way. If “Nope, don’t fuck yet.” is cool, than the numbers wll be skewed the other way.

  5. “Whatever the method, increased contraception usage among teens is paying off.”

    Well, I imagine some of the credit goes to the reduces rates of premarital sex.

    Incidentally, premarital sex doesn’t magically become groovy or harmless once someone leaves their teens.

    1. You’re such a doofus.

      1. OK, the reduced rates of premarital sex *aren’t* affecting the teen pregnancy rate.

        And premarital sex *does* magically become cool once you’re out of your teens.


        1. Sure, let me amend my previous statement.

          You’re such a puritanical doofus.

          1. Zing! And particularly so since the puritans were the avowed enemy of high church types like Eddie.

            1. Tonio, I thought I told you to go off and stalk Summer Glau instead of me.

              (note to Ms. Glau’s attorneys: That was strictly a joke, ha ha)

              1. Delusions of persecution AND delusions of grandeur. Would be sad in someone who wasn’t such an insufferable prat.

                1. Persecution?

                  No, you’re just a weirdo.

          2. “You’re such a puritanical doofus.”

            And you’re such a Restoration-era libertine.

            See, history can be a two-edged sword.

            1. You know what though? I don’t actually care what you think of me.

              1. Then it’s mutual.

                But can’t we get along anyway?

                1. As well as strangers on the Internet who disagree about pretty much everything can be expected to get along. Which is to say, probably not.

                  1. Well, I’m not inviting you to my key parties, that’s for sure. But we can at least be civil.

                    1. But surely those key parties destroy the sanctity of traditional marriage…

                    2. GKC, when did you become a dick? You used to be clever, have interesting things to say, and bring an important religious-YET-libertarian opinion to these comments. Seriously, get your game face back.

                    3. I was always a dick, and I can’t promise to change that, but I’ll certainly try to improve my game if people think I’m slipping. I’m nothing if not responsive to my customers.

          3. Admittedly Eddie’s in a difficult situation where getting laid would probably make him less of a doofus so he’s stuck.

            1. Oh, I’ve got extramaritally laid, but in hindsight I wish I hadn’t. Because I was contributing the to the problems I deplore.

              I’d rather be able to plead guilty to virginity – indeed, I look forward to the day when unmarried people would be ashamed *not* to be virgins.

              1. That is the saddest thing you’ve ever posted, Eddie. Srsly, I actually feel pity for you.

                1. To be fair, apparently getting laid has actively made him more of a doofus. That’s one argument for abstinence at least.

              2. Or one (virgin or non-virgin) could be an adult and comfortable in their sexuality in a mature fashion, rather than clinging to pathetic self-loathing about their ‘shame’. But that would require you to be less of a doofus.

                1. Oh, John Titor, bless your heart, you try so hard!

                  1. Oh GKC, you always shrivel up into a condescending prick with no arguments when someone challenges your pathetic moral posturing! You do know a cilice is cheaper than an internet connection right?

                    1. way to destroy the humor, jeesh

              3. From my view, a trial period is necessary.

                The last thing that could possibly be good for a couples is to get married and THEN find out they aren’t sexually compatible.

    2. “Whatever the method, increased contraception usage among teens is paying off.”

      That kinda puts a cramp on the whole Sandra Fluke “It’s tough for women to get contraception” narrative.

  6. You put Despite but I think you meant Because of.

  7. They’re too busy being polled

    1. Wait, to have sex? Or are they too busy being “polled” that they don’t self report, so only virgins are answering?
      Damn, now I’ve confused myself…

  8. The more boring (and less paranoid) explanation would be that sex – a once forbidden concept – is now so normal and available that it’s no longer interesting.

    1. *looks around*

      I’m still interested.

      1. How much money is in your wallet?

    2. Orgy-porgy, Ford and fun,
      Kiss the girls and make them One
      Boys at one with girls at peace;
      Orgy-porgy gives release.

      1. +1 Aldous Huxley

      2. Funny you should mention that. While I’m all for an overall decrease of needless prudery (especially state-sanctioned and enforced prudery) I much fear the idea that we’re moving towards a “everybody belongs to everybody” mentality.

        1. I was reading something about how Orwell and Huxley were going back and forth about which dystopian future would actually come about. I suspect it will be some kind of weird mashup of the two.

          1. If those were the only two options, I’d go with BNW in an instant. Mandatory dissolute self-indulgence may have it’s downsides but it’s preferable to unending terror.

            1. And the rats. Don’t forget the rats.

    3. That is why I fucking hate nudists. I really believe that these types, along with the feminists free the nipple scolds really want sex to become so boring that the men don’t want it as much.

      It really is a fascinating conflict though that I am sick of prudes telling me how bad sex can be (I am either a sinner and going to hell, or I am degrading women and therefore deserve to go to hell, even though there isn’t any such thing)
      HOWEVER, if sex really does become too “normal” than part of the thrill is gone.

      I guess the answer is keep porn and sex out of the “public” (work, ball games etc.) but go crazy behind closed doors?

      1. Nice handle, bro.

  9. Oh, and for the person on that thread recently who thought that half of pregnancies ended in abortion, these numbers don’t support that. Given a pregnancy rate of ~57 per thousand teenagers and an abortion rate of ~15 ptt, that’s an abortion rate of .26, so you were way off. The reason I’m approximating (“~”) is that this chart doesn’t show actual numbers. Assuming teenagers most likely to abort than older women.

    1. I missed that thread, thankfull, but it wouldn’t have been an abortion thread without someone pulling bullshit statistics out of their ass.

      1. *thankfully* fucking typing.

  10. Despite All the Panic, Millennial Teens Have Much Less Sex Than Their Elders Did
    Congratulations, Gen X’ers: you were better than the millennials at getting laid.

    Given the way we’ve seen the young people behave about sex in college, this is no surprise.

    1. The young, if left to their own devices, would fuck like bunnies, as they always have. It’s the adults with their Title IX hysteria who have done this. In the seventies the puritans (used loosely) knew they were outnumbered and STFU. Today, the puritans are ascendant aided by their Title IX enablers.

      1. In the seventies the puritans (used loosely) knew they were outnumbered and STFU. Today, the puritans are ascendant aided by their Title IX enablers.

        Ok, but you can’t discount the effect the AIDS crisis of the 80’s had upon future generations.

    2. According to how people think sex is at college, you’d think that women are being constantly raped on campus quads around the clock.

  11. Congratulations, Gen X’ers: you were better than the millennials at getting laid.

    Woo hoo!!!! Finally, Gen X gets some recognition for something other than being slackers.

  12. Gee, maybe the basic ability to carry on a simple conversation was a more important component to sexual relations than we thought.

    “Your iPad is experiencing difficulties. Please do not panic. Resist the temptation to read or talk to loved ones. Do not attempt sexual relations, as years of monitor radiation have left your genitals withered and useless.”

    1. *looks under the blanket*

      “Oh my God, he’s right!”

      1. Bake him away, toys.

        1. Congratulations!!!! You’ve won the internet today. Your prize is one yrs worth of Mexican butt sex and marijuana!!!

  13. Gee, maybe the basic ability to carry on a simple conversation was a more important component to sexual relations than we thought.

    “Your iPad is experiencing difficulties. Please do not panic. Resist the temptation to read or talk to loved ones. Do not attempt sexual relations, as years of monitor radiation have left your genitals withered and useless.”

    1. I thought about posting some self-deprecating explanatory remark here, but instead I think I’m gonna go ahead and post that one a third time.

      1. Howdy, Stranger. The H&R PM links are often plagued by posting irregularities such as unintentional double-posts. This phenomenon is half-jokingly referred to as “server squirrels.” No explanation needed on your part.

        1. Well thank you sir. I actually used to post here years back (different name), and I’ve been lurking a little for the last few months. I’m out of town stuck in a hotel so I’m doing a pathetic amount of internet commentating this week.

  14. They are probably just more scared to answer surveys honestly. Privacy go bye-bye now.

    1. Or, equally likely, they have less expectation of privacy so they answered honestly, unlike GenX.

      1. Maybe, but just because they assume everything they do on any electronic device is tracked by spooks doesn’t mean they’d be honest about real-life stuff. I consider the reverse more likely. Even in my day, pre-internet, I always thought it was odd that kids actually assumed their answers to these things were really confidential. I pride myself on being a grumpy old cynic so I can’t believe I’m saying this, but in general kids are actually not dumb.

        1. Yes, they are, and they need to get the hell off my lawn!

  15. This story is bullshit without pictures.

  16. God forbid teenagers should have babies rather than slugging through their 11th year of government training on how to sit still, obey commands, and hold acceptable political opinions.

    Nothing more educational than having children. Sexless, childless, self-sterilizing brats thinking they know something is how we wound up with Obama.

      1. Well somebody DOES need to pay for her fifteen kids. Is that mentality really worse than the archetypical 2008 childless, entitled college punk Obama volunteer saying “We’re going to provide every person in America with free healthcare, and nobody’s going to have to pay? Yes we can!”

        I mean at least the ghetto broad is on step 2: nothing is free, somebody always has to pay.

        Of course, that somebody needs to be her or the daddy. But the 2nd most educational thing in life after having kids is a foot up a bitch’s ass (male or female), and I’m not even joking. But that ain’t legal neither.

        This whole fucked-up world we’re seeing is the result of allowing legislative input from people who a) don’t have kids b) have never had their motherfuckin’ ass whipped

  17. What if someone gave an orgy
    and nobody came?

  18. Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8596 a month. I’ve started this job and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…

  19. Great T-shirt, where can you get one?

    1. I’m pretty sure “everyday” should be two words in that sentence.

  20. I haven’t read the comments yet. Has anybody pointed out the methodological flaw, yet?
    “Teenagers” is worthless as a comparison.
    In 1988, were most teenagers 17, or were they 13? And, in 2015, what is the percentage of teenagers who are 13, vs how many are 19?

  21. Teens today are composed of much more Hispanics and born of religious parents then in the 90s.

    ie Mexican immigrants and their children have less liberal sexual morals then white and black America and religious parents tend to want to have children rather then aborting them or simply never having them.

    This goes along with my theory that legalized abortion easy testing for early pregnancy and ubiquitous birth control will insure that only parents who really want to have kids will have kids. If there are genes that are attributed to this desire then this represents a strong selective force. We are literally breading better moms and dads who marry and organize their lives (jobs, savings households) for the purpose having and raising children.

    Furthermore even if this is not genetic (seems preposterous but possible) there would be a strong shift in cultural norms among proceeding generations. If the only parents around are those who don’t fuck around they will be the only parents teaching their kids about sexual behaviour and sexual morals.

  22. The generation that spawned the Junior Anti-Sex League is having less sex? Huh.

  23. That has to be one of the worst photoshopped images I’ve ever seen. Why would Reason use that?

  24. Hope Brown will follow this up with a more in-depth look at how sex education and teen pregnancy prevention programs are creating what I suspect is an unintended eugenics affect on population demographics. Basically, those with access to meaningful sex education information and the interest to seek it out and the means and resources to apply it have curtailed their unwanted pregnancy rates dramatically. Meanwhile, those without access to meaningful information and/or without the interest to seek it out or the means and resources to apply it continue to produce the greatest number of new births. Thus the grossly distorted distribution of socio-economic benefits has conceivably created a dynamic where the most desperate, least educated segment of the population is outproducing the better educated, more stable members of society at a rate of about 2:1.

  25. how about the really creepy, deep-seated fear that a lot of kids are starting to show, because of a culture that in effect demonizes sex.

    Evidence is all the fake “lesbians” in colleges, high schools, and community colleges, and weird shit like what Seinfeld said his daughter said.

    Between all the rape histeria, the demonization of men, the upper-middle class obsession with not just being a normal fucking person and having to be some special butterfly college grad with some imaginary super interesting life, and alimony and divorce and child support, the consequences of sex can be devastating and/or can seem insanely devastating. The kids subconciously realize that and internalize it.
    With the internalizing it: it’s an unfortunate fact that when it comes to culture, people are very attune to things and react pretty strongly, but suck at understanding them at a conscious level and verbalizing and analying them. Sometimes this can even get insanely specific. Millions of upper-middle class d-bags will insist that a woman graduate college before she get married (men who want to marry them, and the families of those men included). Why? because a woman with a college degree has a higher earning potential, and so can’t fleece a man as badly during a divorce, and thus she becomes a better marriage candidate. But you’ll NEVER see anyone realize this explicitly.

  26. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.online-jobs9.com

  27. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.online-jobs9.com

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