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More teens using the rhythm method

Associated Press / June 3, 2010

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ATLANTA — A growing number of teenage girls say they use the rhythm method for birth control, and more teens also think it is OK for an unmarried female to have a baby, according to a government survey released yesterday. The report may help explain why the teen pregnancy rate is no longer dropping.

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

But there were some notable exceptions in the new survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

First, about 17 percent of sexually experienced teen girls say they had used the rhythm method — timing their sex to avoid fertile days to prevent getting pregnant. That’s up from 11 percent in 2002.

They may have been using another form of birth control at the same time. But the increase is considered worrisome because the rhythm method does not work about 25 percent of the time, said Joyce Abma, the report’s lead author. Abma is a social scientist at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The survey of nearly 2,800 teens found that about 42 percent of never-married teens had had sex at least once in their life. Of those, 98 percent said they had used birth control at least once, with condoms being the most common choice. Those findings were about the same as in the 2002 survey.

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