Unprotected Sex Statistics: How Many People Use Condoms & Birth Control

Among Americans aged 15-44, 33.7% of men and 23.8% of women report using a condom during their last sexual intercourse.
split screen image with a donut chart on the left depicting that 90% of women use birth control with an image on the right displaying a medley of contraception including condoms, birth control pills, an iud, ring, and female diaphragm
Updated:November 2023

Among sexually active women aged 18 to 64 years old, 90% report using contraception at some point during their reproductive years. [6]

Additionally, just 8.9% of cohabitating, engaged, or married men report using a condom “every time” they have sex, compared to 10.1% of women in the same age group and with the same partnered status. [2]

Key Statistics To Know:

  • A four-year report of more than 20,000 American men and women from teenagers (15 and up) to those in their 40s (44) found that 23.8% of women and 33.7% of men who had sex in the previous 12 months reported using a condom during their last sexual intercourse. [2]
  • Among cohabitating, engaged, or married women aged 15 to 44 years old who reported having sexual intercourse in the previous 12 months, 10.1% reported using a condom “every time”, compared to 8.9% of men in the same age group and with the same partnered status. [2]
  • Among cohabitating, engaged, or married women aged 15 to 44 years old who reported having sexual intercourse in the past four weeks, 84.4% reported no condom use, compared to 78.5% of men in the same age group and with the same partnered status. [2]
  • Condom use is “significantly higher” during anal sex compared to oral sex, according to one study that found 25% of heterosexual men and 16.1% of heterosexual women reported using condoms during their last anal sex. [3]
  • Among women aged 18 to 64 years old, 90% report using contraception at some point during their reproductive years, and 76% reported using more than one method over the course of their sexual lifetime. [6]
  • The male condom offers more than 90% protection against HIV; when condoms are used correctly (and always), HIV transmission is reduced by about 85%. [10]

What Is Unprotected Sex?

The definition of “unprotected sex” ultimately depends on what a person is trying to protect themselves from during sexual contact — STI transmission, unintended pregnancy, or both.

Most commonly, unprotected sex refers to having sexual contact with a partner without the use of contraception (i.e., birth control) or barriers, such as condoms or dental dams.

In this article, we’ll highlight key statistics relating to unprotected sex, including condom use among various populations, unprotected anal sex, birth control use among women, and the efficacy of condoms as it relates to STI transmission.

Do Married People Use Condoms?

set of bar graphs depicting that during the previous 12 months how often cohabitating, engaged or married men and women use condoms — among women, 10.1% do so every time compared to 72.4% who use them none of the time; among men, 8.9% use them every time and 64.5% report using them none of the time
  • A study found that among cohabitating, engaged, or married women aged 15 to 44 years old who reported having sexual intercourse in the previous 12 months, 10.1% reported using a condom “every time”, 4.4% reported using a condom “most of the time”, 2.7% reported using a condom “about half the time”, 10.4% reported using a condom “some of the time”, and 72.4% reported using a condom “none of the time”. [2]
  • That same study found that among cohabitating, engaged, or married men aged 15 to 44 years old who reported having sexual intercourse in the previous 12 months, 8.9% reported using a condom “every time”, 8.7% reported using a condom “most of the time”, 3.7% reported using a condom “about half the time”, 14.2% reported using a condom “some of the time”, and 64.5% reported using a condom “none of the time”. [2]
  • Among cohabitating, engaged, or married women aged 15 to 44 years old who reported having sexual intercourse in the past four weeks, 84.4% reported no condom use, 3.7% reported “some” condom use, and 12.4% reported “always” using a condom. [2]
  • Among cohabitating, engaged, or married men aged 15 to 44 years old who reported having sexual intercourse in the past four weeks, 78.5% reported no condom use, 7.8% reported “some” condom use, and 13.8% reported “always” using a condom. [2]
  • Among married or cohabitating women aged 18 to 44 years old, 15.7% reported using a condom during their last vaginal sex and 16.4% reported using a condom during their last anal sex. [1]
  • Among married or cohabitating men aged 18 to 44 years old, 19.8% reported using a condom during their last vaginal sex and 23.3% reported using a condom during their last anal sex. [1]
  • Among married or cohabitating women aged 18 to 44 years old who reported using condoms during their last vaginal sex: 74.4% cited pregnancy prevention as the reason, 4.4% cited the prevention of STIs or AIDS as the reason, 16.2% cited pregnancy and STI/AIDS prevention as the reason, and 5.1% cited “other” as their reason for condom use. [1]
  • Among married or cohabitating men aged 18 to 44 years old who reported using condoms during their last vaginal sex: 74.5% cited pregnancy prevention as the reason, 3.8% cite the prevention of STIs or AIDS as the reason, 17.5% cited pregnancy and STI/AIDS prevention as the reason, and 4.2% cited “other” as their reason for condom use. [1]

Condom use among married couples is fairly low, though those who use condoms are primarily concerned with pregnancy prevention, with a small amount concerned about STIs.

While marital relationships are typically (though not always) monogamous (and thus at a lower risk for STIs), HIV and herpes are chronic and condoms can reduce the likelihood of transmission.

Notably, herpes sores can exist outside of areas covered by a condom, and thus barrier methods have limits but are still a wise choice.

Unprotected Anal Sex Statistics

donut chart depicting that collectively, multiple studies examining anal sex and condom use found that 25% or less of respondents use condoms during anal sex consistently
  • One study that collectively examined multiple research papers on the topic of condom use during anal sex found that “25% or less of respondents consistently use condoms for anal sex.” [3]
  • Condom use is “significantly higher” during anal sex compared to oral sex, according to one study that found 25% of heterosexual men and 16.1% of heterosexual women reported using condoms during their last anal sex. [3]
  • During their last anal sex, 25.5% of heterosexual women aged 15 to 19 years old reported using a condom, 17.1% of heterosexual women aged 20 to 24 years old reported using a condom, 17.3% of heterosexual women aged 25 to 34 years old reported using a condom, and 13.3% of heterosexual women aged 35 to 44 years old reported using a condom. [3]
  • During their last anal sex, 34% of heterosexual men aged 15 to 19 years old reported using a condom, 34.9% of heterosexual men aged 20 to 24 years old reported using a condom, 22.7% of heterosexual men aged 25 to 34 years old reported using a condom, and 22.2% of heterosexual men aged 35 to 44 years old reported using a condom. [3]
  • One study found that 38% of heterosexual women reported having unprotected anal sex in the past year. [4]
  • One two-trial study of men who have sex with other men found that 40.2% reported never using a condom for either insertive or receptive anal sex for at least one 6-month interval. [5]

Given that receptive anal sex is particularly risky for STI transmission, condom use rates are fairly low.

However, these data do not reveal the relationship context in which anal sex is taking place.

Because anal intercourse is often regarded as a more intimate practice, it may be more common in committed (usually monogamous) relationships than casual ones, where the risk of STI transmission is lower overall.

How Many Women Use Birth Control?

donut graph depicting that 90% of women aged 18 to 64 years old report using contraception at some point during their reproductive years
  • Among American women aged 15 to 49, the most common methods of contraception were reported as [7]:
    • Female sterilization (18.1%)
    • Oral contraceptive pills (14%)
    • Long-acting reversible contraceptives (IUD or implants) (10.4%)
    • Male condoms (8.4%)
  • Among women aged 18 to 64 years old, 90% report using contraception at some point during their reproductive years, and 76% reported using more than one method over the course of their sexual lifetime. [6]
  • 17% of sexually active women aged 18 to 64 years old who report that they are not trying to become pregnant also report that they are not using contraception. [6]
  • 85% of women aged 18 to 64 who report using contraception cite pregnancy prevention as the reason, while 4 out of 10 cite another reason (e.g., managing a medical condition or STI prevention). [6]
  • 31% of women aged 18 to 64 who report currently using contraception say that they are experiencing side effects, and 52% say those side effects “are more severe than expected.” [6]

The vast majority of women have used contraception at some point in their sexual lives.

Unfortunately, despite almost 1/3 experiencing some form of side effects (often from hormonal methods), there is little cultural or even medical concern for women’s experiences.

Recent research has highlighted a substantial gap between women’s and healthcare providers’ concerns regarding birth control side effects.

How Many People Use Condoms?

donut chart depicting that among sexually active teens in high school, 52% reported using a condom the last time they had sex
  • A four-year report of more than 20,000 American men and women aged 15 to 44 found that 23.8% of women and 33.7% of men who had sexual intercourse in the previous 12 months reported using a condom during their last sexual intercourse. [2]
  • Condom use among men rose the most over a period of 13 years compared to women: 29.5% of men and 23.4% of women reported using a condom during their last sexual intercourse in 2002; 33.1% of men and 25.3% of women reported the same between 2006 and 2010; 33.7% of men and 23.8% of women reported using a condom during their last sexual intercourse from 2011 to 2015. [2]
  • Among men and women aged 15 to 44, 19% of men and 14.8% of women reported using a condom “every time” they had sexual intercourse during the previous 12 months. [2]
  • Among American women, 35.6% of those aged 15 to 19 report using a condom “every time” they have sex, compared to 17.9% of women aged 20 to 24, 12.8% of women aged 25 to 34, and 10.9% of women aged 35 to 44. [2]
  • Among American men, 53.5% of those aged 15 to 19 report using a condom “every time” they have sex, compared to 29.5% of men aged 20 to 24, 16.2% of men aged 25 to 34, and 9.4% of men aged 35 to 44. [2]
  • 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 [8, 9]

Despite stereotypes that men are condom-averse, the data in this section as well as the sections above highlight that men are actually more likely to report condom use compared to women.

Unprotected Sex STI Statistics

bar graph depicting that condoms offer the following amounts of protection for various sexually transmitted infections: hiv (greater than 90%), hepatitis b (about 90%), gonorrhea (greater than 90%), and chlamydia (50 to 90%)
  • The male condom offers more than 90% protection against HIV; when condoms are used correctly (and always), HIV transmission is reduced by about 85%. [10]
  • Male condoms offer more than 90% protection against Hepatitis B and transmission of that virus is reduced by about 90% when condoms are used correctly (and always). [10]
  • The male condom reduces transmission of genital herpes by about 40% when condoms are correctly and always used. [10]
  • The male condom offers more than 90% protection against gonorrhea and 50-90% protection against chlamydia. [10]
  • Transmission of syphilis is reduced by 50 to 71% when condoms are correctly and always used. [10]
  • Condoms, although effective against many STIs, do not provide a reduction in the transmission of HPV (human papillomavirus). [10]

Condoms are highly effective at preventing the transmission of many STIs.

Importantly, efficacy is reduced for those passed via skin-to-skin contact, as condoms do not cover all areas that may be affected.

Nonetheless, for overall STI protection, condoms are our best option.

Sources