Did You Know?
Dating during adolescence is common and can be part of healthy development.1 However, serious and exclusive dating relationships can lead adolescents to have sex earlier than they would otherwise.2 Those who have sex at an early age are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors.3,4 The prevalence of adolescents who have ever had sex significantly declined from 1991–2015. This change was also significant between 2013 (47 percent) and 2015 (41 percent).5 Of adolescents ages 15-19 who have had sex, approximately one-third have had just one partner.6 Among female adolescents, 16 percent have had two partners, 32 percent have had three to five partners, and 17 percent have had six or more partners.6 Among male adolescents, 15 percent have had two partners, 33 percent have had three to five partners, and 22 percent have had six or more partners.6 Many adolescents are engaging in sexual behaviors other than vaginal intercourse: nearly half have had oral sex and just over one in 10 have had anal sex.7
Learn More About Dating and Sexual Relationships in Adolescents
- Check out OAH’s full library of federal adolescent health resources on reproductive health in general, and those specific to healthy relationships. Also, visit our page on dating violence for resources specific to that issue.
- For adolescents who are sexually active, federally funded Title X family planning clinics offer low-cost STD testing and contraceptive services for qualifying patients. Adolescents and others can find a Title X funded clinic near their homes.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has a locator service that helps visitors search for testing centers where they can receive STD and HIV testing services, as well as vaccines for Hepatitis B and HPV.
- GirlsHealth.gov also has a Teen Survival Guide and a Healthy Relationships section. These resources help adolescents evaluate whether they have a healthy relationship with people in their lives, like dating partners, family members, and friends.
Content last reviewed on September 20, 2016