How Many Teens Have Sex: Frequency, Partner Counts & More

In America, about 70% of teens have had penile-vaginal intercourse by the age of 19, and 54.3% of teens reported using a condom the last time they had sex.
split screen image featuring a bar graph on the left depicting sexual orientation among teenagers with about 75% identifying as heterosexual, about 12% identifying as bisexual, about 3% identifying as gay or lesbian, and about 9% identifying as other, with a photograph of two teenage girls sitting closely together on the right, with one leaning over to whisper into the other's ear like they're talking about sex
Updated:October 2023

Sexual education in high school is extremely important since the majority of today’s youth lose their virginity while they’re in high school. [1]

By age 19, about 70% of teens have had penile-vaginal intercourse. [1]

It’s quite common for young adolescents to begin to examine their sexual orientation, sexual preferences, and sexual desires when they are teenagers.

Key Statistics To Know:

  • About half of teens (54% female, 52% male) have had some type of sexual experience between the ages of 15 and 19 (penile-vaginal sex, oral sex, anal sex, or a sexual experience with a same-sex partner). [1]
  • By age 19, about 70% of teens have had penile-vaginal intercourse at some point in their lifetime. [1]
  • Only 6% of teen high school students had had four or more sexual partners. [7]
  • Among sexually experienced teens, 70% of females and 56% of males report that their first sexual encounter was with a steady partner. [13]
  • Approximately 75% of teens aged 14-18 identify as heterosexual, meaning that about 1-in-4 teens claim to be something other than “straight.” [6]
  • About 12% of teens consider themselves bisexual. [6]
  • 54.3 % of teens reported using a condom the last time they had sexual intercourse, while 11.9% reported using no method to prevent pregnancy during their last sexual intercourse. [10]
  • Only about 5% of teens got tested for STDs in the last year. [7]
  • Teen pregnancy rates have declined significantly since 1991, and are now at historic lows for all racial/ethnic groups [5, 12].
  • Teen pregnancy rates have declined, in part, due to the increased use of contraception among teens. [12]

During adolescence, teenagers aged 13 to 19 years may start to experiment with their sexuality and have sex, either with or without their parents’ knowledge.

“The age of first sex has been increasing over the last few years,” Dr. Susan Milstein, a sex educator on our medical review board, said.

“While they may start to experiment with sex play and relationships, it’s becoming less typical for them to have [penis-in-vagina] sex,” she noted.

Although teen pregnancy rates have declined (in part) as a result of increased contraception use, “rates are also decreasing because of delaying [the] first sexual experience,” she explained.

In this article, we’ll highlight key statistics relating to teenage sex, including when teens start engaging in sexual behaviors, how many partners they have, their orientations, and safe sex practices.

When Do Teens Start Having Sex?

bar graph depicting that among teens aged 15 to 19, 54% of females and 52% of males reported having at least one sexual experience (penile-vaginal sex, oral sex, anal sex, or a sexual experience with a same-sex partner)
  • Among those aged 15 to 19, 54% of teenage females and 52% of teenage males have had some type of sexual experience (penile-vaginal sex, oral sex, anal sex, or a sexual experience with a same-sex partner). [1]
  • The most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey data from 2021 found that over 30% of high school students had already had sex. [7]
  • Another study found that 30% of teens aged 15 to 16 have had sex, but sex is more common among older teens aged 17 to 19. [3]
  • By age 19, about 70% of teens have had penile-vaginal intercourse at some point in their lifetimes. [1]
  • Consensual sexual activity is rare among those 12 and younger; most sexual activity in this age range is non-consensual. [3]

Interest in sexual and romantic relationships among teens starts to develop around the time of puberty, in the “pre-teen” to early teen years.

Younger teens are less likely, but as adolescents near their 20th birthday, most have experienced some form of sexual activity, with a majority engaging in penile-vaginal intercourse.

That said, it isn’t the case that “everybody’s doing it” – by age 19, a sizable minority of 30% have not had vaginal intercourse.

How Many Sexual Partners Do Teens Have?

donut chart depicting that according to the cdc's youth risk behavior survey, only 6% of teenage high school students reported having 4 or more sexual partners
  • Approximately 45% of sexually experienced female teens aged 14-19 reported having at least three different sexual partners. [4]
  • Approximately 55% of sexually experienced male teens aged 14-19 reported having at least three different sexual partners. [4]
  • Among 14 to 19-year-olds with sexual experience, 48.6% of males and 39.4% of females reported having at least 2 partners in the past year. [4]
  • The most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey data from 2021 found that only 6% of teen high school students had had four or more sexual partners. [7]
  • Male teens were more likely than female teens to have had sex with 3 or more different sexual partners. [7]

The number of sexual partners teens have can be influenced by many factors — culture, media, family environment, and religion are common examples.

One’s “body count” does not designate one’s value.

“How people view their body count is different,” Dr. Milstein, the sex educator on our medical review board, explained. “Some are proud of the number, while others feel shame when it’s ‘too high.’”

As with adults, male teens tend to have more sexual partners than females, though there are always exceptions.

→ For more, read: Average Number Of Sex Partners

Sexual Orientation Among Teens

bar graph depicting that among teens aged 14 to 18, about 75% identify at heterosexual, about 12% identify as bisexual, about 3% identify as gay or lesbian, and about 9% identify as something other
  • A national annual report of over 17,000 teens in 2021 found that about 75% of teens aged 14-18 identified as heterosexual, which is a lower percentage of heterosexuality compared to previous years’ reports. [6]
  • Of the remaining respondents, about 12% considered themselves bisexual. [6]
  • Just over 3% were either gay or lesbian. [6]
  • About 9% of respondents marked “other” for their sexual orientation, which could include those who were unsure or had other sexual identities such as pansexual or asexual. [6]
  • The number of LGBTQ youth continues to rise each year, with the most recent statistics proving a record-breaking 1-in-4 Gen Z teens who do not identify as “straight.” The majority of LGBTQ youth say they are bisexual. [6]

The record-breaking 1-in-4 statistic “may not indicate an increase in the number of teens who are actually LGBTQIA+,” Dr. Milstein said.

“It may be more of an indicator of the acceptance they feel from their peers and community to be open and out,” she explained.

The landscape of sexual orientation among adolescents has changed dramatically in the last two decades.

Data collected in 2001-2002 in a nationally representative survey revealed 94% of adolescents identified as heterosexual (with another 3.2% as “mostly heterosexual”).

Meanwhile, only 1.2% identified as gay or lesbian (with another 0.6% as mostly gay/lesbian) and 0.6% identifying as bisexual [14].

Bisexuality has especially grown among teens in recent years.

The LGBTQ community has become increasingly visible and accepted publicly, and adolescents are particularly exposed to media and social media where discussions about sexual identity and depictions of LGBTQ individuals take place.

Condom And Contraception Use Among Teens

donut chart depicting that among sexually active teens in high school, 52% reported using a condom the last time they had sex
  • The most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey data from 2021 found that 52% of teen high school students had used a condom the last time they had sex [7], a slight decrease compared to the 54.3% who had reported the same in 2019 [10].
  • That same survey data showed 37% of female high school students were on hormonal contraceptives. [7]
  • Only 5% of teens got tested for STDs in the previous year and only 6% of teens had ever been tested for HIV, according to a 2021 report. [7]
  • In 2021, one report found that 10% of teen high school students who were currently sexually active used dual methods of birth control during the last time they had sex with a partner, such as using a condom as well as being on the birth control pill. [7]
  • Recent findings show an increase in contraceptive use overall for teenagers, but a small decline in consistent condom use. [11]

As hormonal contraceptives have become more commonplace among teens, condom use has at least somewhat declined.

While hormonal contraception can prevent pregnancy, it cannot prevent STI transmission.

Pregnancy Rates Among Teenagers

simple text graphic depicting that since 1991, birth rates among teens are now at historic lows for all racial and ethnic groups
  • Birth rates among teens (teen pregnancy rates) have declined significantly since 1991, and are now at historic lows for all racial/ethnic groups [5, 12].
  • Between 1991 and 2020, birth rates declined 75% among teens aged 15-19 to 15 births per 1,000 sexually active teens. [12]
  • In 2021, the teen birth rate among females aged 15-19 was only 13.9 births per every thousand women. [12]
  • Since the 1990s, teenage pregnancy rates among females aged 15-19 in the U.S. have been on the decline, at least in part due to the increased use of contraception. The most popular methods of contraception among female teens in order of frequency are condoms, the withdrawal method, and the birth control pill. [12]

Despite the popularity of the MTV show Teen Mom, there are far fewer teen moms today compared to the last few decades.

Hormonal contraception has had a substantial impact on teen pregnancy rates.

Despite the small decline in condom use noted above, overall today’s teens are increasingly taking responsibility for their sexual health, at least as far as unplanned pregnancy is concerned.

Sources