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Factsheet on Young Women's Health

The UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women's Health has put together this comprehensive fact sheet on the health status of young women.

Reproductive and Sexual Health
(Unless otherwise cited, data is from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy)

  • In California, one in three girls have had sex by age 16, two in three by age 18.
  • Nearly four in ten young women become pregnant at least once before they reach the age of 20 - nearly one million a year - eight in ten of these pregnancies are unintended, and 79% are to unmarried teens
  • In California, nearly 60,000 children are born to teen moms every year (Alan Guttmacher Institute)
  • By the twelfth grade, one in five of students have had four or more sexual partners (CDC, 1999)
  • Every year 3 million teens - about one in four sexually active teens - get a Sexually Transmitted Disease or STD (American Social Health Network)
  • In the US, 15-19 year-old women have the highest rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia (CDC, 1999)
  • One in five people living with HIV in the US are under the age of 25 - 40% percent of these young people are female (CDC, 2002.)
  • Among high school students who had received a routine check-up during the previous year, only 42.8% of females had discussed STD or pregnancy prevention with their health care provider (CDC, 1999)
  • Teen girls who identify as lesbian, bisexual or questioning are at an increased risk of unintended pregnancy

Depression and Suicide

  • Every day six teenagers in the US commit suicide
  • One quarter of female students in grades 9-12 report seriously considering or attempting suicide
  • Gay, lesbian and bisexual teens are two-three times more likely than heterosexual teens to attempt suicide
  • More than 1/3 of female students report having felt sad or hopeless almost daily for more than two weeks in a row (CDC, 2000)
  • Lesbian and gay youth are 2 - 6 times more likely to attempt suicide than other youth and may account for 30% of all completed suicides among teens (Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1989)

Drug and Alcohol Use

  • More than 30% of 12th graders have smoked tobacco in the last 30 days
  • More than 25% have used marijuana in the last 30 days
  • More than 25% consumed 5 or more drinks in a row on one or more of the past 30 days
  • More than 25% of high school students nationally report frequent drug use (CDC, 2002)

Dating Violence

  • Approximately one in five female high school students report having been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner (JAMA, 2001)
  • Over 70% of pregnant or parenting teens are beaten by their boyfriends (http://www.hawc.org/topics/teen/facts.html)
  • Women age 16-24 experience the highest per capita rates of intimate partner violence (U.S. Department of Justice, 1998)
  • More than one in ten female students report having been forced to have sexual intercourse (CDC, 2000)
  • Close to four in ten girls who had first intercourse at age 13 or 14 report it was either non-voluntary or unwanted
  • More than a third (36%) of teens aged 13-18 say they have done something sexual, or felt pressure to do something sexual, that they did not feel ready to do (Kaiser Family Foundation, January 2003)

Eating Disorders

  • 90% of eating disorders occur in women, the majority of them teens
  • Anorexia and bulimia affect approximately 4 million females ages 15-25
  • Teen girls are far more likely than teen boys to report vomiting, fasting, taking diet pills, laxatives, powders or liquids to lose weight or control weight gain and they are less likely to participate in sports teams and other exercise activities (CDC, 2000)
  • Anorexia nervosa ranks as the third most common chronic illness among adolescent females in the U.S. (American Journal of Psychiatry 1993, Journal of Adolescent Health 1995.
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