About six in 10 sexually active single men in the United States are taking responsibility for birth control, government health officials say.
When they have sex, these unmarried males are using a condom (45 percent), vasectomy, “withdrawal,” or a combination, according to a new report released Thursday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For the study, the researchers surveyed about 3,700 unmarried and sexually active men, aged 15 to 44.
The researchers found that use of any male birth control method rose from about 52 percent in 2002 to more than 59 percent by 2011-2015.
Male-method contraception was highest (75 percent) among men who had never married, followed by formerly married men (55 percent) and men currently living with their partner (36 percent), said study lead author Kimberly Daniels.
Daniels is a statistician with the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
The proportion of guys relying on condoms or vasectomy hasn’t changed since 2002, but use of withdrawal before ejaculation has, Daniels said.
Reliance on pulling out nearly doubled, rising from about 10 percent in 2002 to nearly 19 percent in 2011-2015, the study found.
Asked whether the CDC considers withdrawal a reliable form of contraception, Daniels said it is among the rubric of male methods. Yet as a family-planning tool, the CDC ranks withdrawal relatively poorly, more or less on par with condom use, and far below the effectiveness of the birth control pill for women.
Dr. J. Dennis Fortenberry, chief of adolescent medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine, said a “variety of things likely contribute to relatively high levels of [male contraceptive] use.”
Among them, he said, are comprehensive sex education programs, increased emphasis on communication with sexual partners, emphasis on men’s responsibility for contraception, and access to reproductive health services through means such as the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare).
“The data speak against any return to abstinence-only education for younger men, or creation of access barriers to sexual and reproductive health for all people,” Fortenberry added.
The researchers analyzed data collected between 2011 and 2015 for the National Survey of Family Growth.
Condom use varied by marital status, age and race, the findings showed.
Six out of 10 never-married men reported using condoms, followed by 35 percent of formerly married men and about one-quarter of co-habitating men, the survey found.
Racially, more than half of single black men used a condom compared to 44 percent of their white peers and 42 percent of Hispanics, according to the report.
And in terms of age, more than three-quarters of 15- to 19-year-old guys used condoms compared to just over one-quarter of men aged 35 to 44.
Withdrawal decreased in popularity with age, too, dropping from 26 percent of teens to just 12 percent of men 35 to 44. It was also more frequently tried by men who’d never married compared with previously married men and those living with a partner.
When the researchers looked at male and female contraception combined, they found that 82 percent of men who’d had sex in the past 90 days said either they or their partner had used some type of birth control.
The findings were published Aug. 31 in the NCHS Data Brief.
There’s more on contraception at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.