Sometimes it seems like everyone is doing it…especially if you’re not. But less than half of teens in high school (only 42% of girls and 43% of boys) have had sex. That means that more than half of all high school students are virgins. And the younger someone is, the more likely they’re a virgin. For example, less than one-third of teenagers age 17 and younger have had sex, while 60% of 18- and 19- year-olds have.
It’s okay not to have sex. In fact, not having sex is a great idea, especially if you want to avoid pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Of course there are all kinds of birth control methods that—when used carefully, correctly, and consistently—can protect you against pregnancy and decrease the risk of STIs. But not having sex is the only 100% proven method for avoiding pregnancy and STIs.
And while birth control can help protect your body, it can’t protect your feelings—and feelings are a big part of what can change when you have sex with someone. That’s one of the reasons that the majority of teens who have had sex say they wish they had waited longer…and we don’t just mean that they waited for marriage—just that they waited longer to get to know their partner or to be sure that they were ready to have sex in the first place.
Even though movies and TV and gossip at school can make it seems like everyone is having sex (or wants to), that’s not exactly true. In a recent survey of guys ages 15-18:
- 75% said they’d rather "wait to lose their virginity with someone they love," compared to 24% who said they would prefer to "lose their virginity as soon as possible."
- 66% said they would rather "have a girlfriend but NOT have sex" while just 34% said they would prefer "having sex but not have a girlfriend."
- 68% said they "could be happy in a serious relationship that doesn’t include sex."
And that’s not all. Even though girls often say they feel pressure from guys to go farther or do more than they want to, 85% of guys ages 15-18 say they have "more respect for girls who stop a hook-up if they aren’t ready or comfortable." And 80% of teen guys say they think there is "way too much pressure from society to have sex."
Sex can be complicated and confusing. That’s one of the reasons why three-quarters of teens—both guys and girls—say it’s not embarrassing to admit that they’re virgins. After all, good relationships are built on trust, communication, commitment, and spending time together enjoying things other than sex.
There are lots of reasons not to have sex besides not wanting to get pregnant or get someone else pregnant (although that’s a pretty good reason, too). Here are some of the most common reasons teens give for waiting:
- I’m waiting for the right guy or girl.
- I've got better things to do with my time.
- It’s against my religious beliefs.
- I think sex is something special that should be saved until you are married.
- I’m worried about my reputation. I don’t want everybody to think I’m a slut.
- I don’t want to catch an STI.
- I want to make sure I’m in a lasting relationship first.
- I just don’t feel like I’m ready yet.
All of these are perfectly good reasons to wait. What are yours? Email us your reasons to wait and we’ll add them to our list.
- I'm a Sex Ed Superstar. How do you score? Take the quiz @ t.co/WLQvHMdkS7 and find out. #ND13
- RT @Sexetc: If you could use a long-lasting IUD instead of a daily birth control pill, would you? t.co/HVh0q7RdKN
- Camping, movies, parties...what would you miss out on if you became a teen parent? t.co/ctSsqLrew7 #ND13
- Have you shared your birthday on Facebook? What about your real name? You're not alone: t.co/eqSEQsFjgw via @pewresearch
- Wish you could talk to your parents about relationships? It's time. Head to t.co/WLQvHMdkS7 and start talking. #ND13