A cartoon condom giving a thumbs up sign

Rates of condom use remained largely unchanged in recent years according to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on data from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), with higher usage reported among those ages 15-19.

Using in-person interviews with males and females in the U.S. ages 15-44, the NSFG collects data on topics such as relationships, pregnancy, contraception use, and reproductive health. Key findings from the most recent study include:

  • During 2011-2015, nearly 24% of men and 34% of women reported using a condom with their most recent experience of sexual intercourse.
  • Over the last four weeks, 18% of men and 24% of women reported using condoms “100% of the time” with intercourse. 7% of the women in this group said the condom “broke or completely fell off.”
  • The majority of condom users – 60% of men and 56% of women – used condoms as their sole method of contraception.

Dennis Fortenberry, MD, MS, a professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, said “Although condoms will never solve all of the STI and pregnancy prevention needs of a diverse population, they remain an accessible and low-cost technology necessary for comprehensive public health prevention approaches.”

Fortenberry notes the overall proportion of condom use is stable in recent years, with no large changes across the U.S. population. He says condom use is “quite high among younger sexually active populations where STI and pregnancy are important and access to other means of prevention may be limited.” The NSFG report confirms condom use is higher among young people: among those ages 15-19, 36% of women and 53% of men said they used condoms each time they had sex over the past year, compared to 11% of men and 9% of women ages 35-44.

Responding to issues with slippage and breakage, Fortenberry says we can do more to teach people how to use condoms correctly: “The relatively high frequency of condom use problems suggests the need for continued public health education and training, since other research suggests that problems are less frequent among more experienced users.”

ASHA’s resources on condoms (such as how to use them correctly) include the Condomology initiative with fact sheets, videos, and more.