Dr. Rebecca Allen of Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island and Dr. Michelle Forcier of Hasbro Children's Hospital, both in Providence, R.I., say the United States needs to offer more confidential care for teenagers who are sexually active.
The study, published in the journal SRM: Sexuality, Reproduction and Menopause, says 46 percent of U.S. teens have had sex at least once by age 19, and 20 percent have had sex by age 15. Eighty-three percent of females ages 15-19 and 91 percent of males ages 15-19 report using contraception, but approximately 750,000 female teens become pregnant each year, the study says.
"With almost half of teens in high school being sexually active, effective contraception screening and counseling is a critical component of adolescent health visits," Allen says in a statement. "Counseling adolescents about using contraception and ensuring access to contraception to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases is critical."
The desired standard of care for teens includes private and confidential discussions with doctors to elicit accurate sexual histories, ascertain risk and provide appropriate counseling and recommendations, the researchers said.