Sexual and Contraceptive Behaviors of Teen and Young Adult Men

Washington, DC—Young adult men between the ages of 20 to 24 are less likely to use condoms than teen males, and very few young men, including teens, seek out reproductive health services, according to a new Child Trends report.  Sexual and Reproductive Health Behaviors among Teen and Young Adult Men looks at the behavior of young adult men (ages 20 to 24) and male teens (ages 15-19).


Among the findings:


  • Young adult men are more likely to have sex and less likely to use condoms than teen males.
    • Only 50 percent of young adult men reported using condoms the last time they had sex, compared with 71 percent of male teens.
    • Moreover, the percentage of men who reported using no type of contraceptive the last time they had sex was higher for young adults (15%) than for teens (9%).
    • 87% of young adult men have ever had sexual intercourse, compared with 46% of teens.
  • Few young men seek out reproductive health services.
    • Only 31 percent of men aged 15-24 received any sexual and reproductive health services in the past year, compared with 52 percent of women aged 15-24.


  • Young adult men report some of the highest rates of sexual transmitted infections (STIs), but are more likely to think of condoms as a way to prevent pregnancy than STIs.
    • Almost all teen and young adult men reported using condoms for pregnancy prevention (94 percent of teen men and 95 percent of young adult men).
    • Fewer reported using condoms as a way to protect against STIs (60 percent of teen men and 66 percent of young adult men).


  • When young men become fathers, their families are at a greater risk of poor outcomes.  Two-thirds of fathers aged 15-24 were unmarried when their most recent child was born.
    • 57 percent of fathers aged 15-24 reported that the birth of their most recent child was unintended (either unwanted or mistimed).
    • Young, unmarried fathers, and those with unintended births provide fewer financial and time resources to their children, putting the children’s cognitive and behavioral development at risk.


“Our findings identify young adult males as a population at high risk of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies, in part because of their failure to get reproductive health services,” says Jennifer Manlove, Ph.D., lead author of the report. “The public health community needs to identify better ways to reach this population.”


The analyses in this report are based on a sample from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth of 2,059 men who were between the ages of 15 and 24 in 2002.


Child Trends is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center that studies children at all stages of development. Its mission is to improve outcomes for children by providing research, data, and analysis to the people and institutions whose decisions and actions affect children.