News Sexual Health

Teen Birth Rate Hits Lowest Point Since 1946

Martha Kempner

Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the latest teen birth rates which found that fewer babies were born to teen mothers in 2010 than in any year since 1946. 

The positive news just keeps coming. In February we reported on the latest teen pregnancy rates which were the lowest in nearly 40 years and showed a 42 percent decrease from their peak in 1990. Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the latest teen birth rates which found that fewer babies were born to teen mothers in 2010 than in any year since 1946. In 2010 there were 367,752 babies born to teens compared to 409,802 in 2009.

The 2010 birth rates was 34.3 births per 1,000 young women ages 15 to 19 which represents a nine percent drop from just the year before and a 44 percent drop since 1991 when birth rates were at their highest (61.8 per 1,000 young women). The CDC’s report calculated that if that high rate had continued, there would have been about 3.4 million additional births to teenagers between 1992 and 2010.

The teen birth rate dropped across all racial and ethnic groups but still varies widely by race; Hispanics have the highest teenage birth rates at 55.7 births per 1,000 teens in the age group, followed by black teens at 51.5 per 1,000. Asian teens have the lowest teenage birth rate with 10.9 per 1,000.

In addition, teen birth rates fell since 2007 in all states except Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia.  Still, birth rates vary widely among different groups of states; Mississippi has the highest teen birth rate at 55 per 1,000 girls 15 to 19 years of age, New Mexico’s rate is 53, and Arkansas is 52.5.  New Hampshire has the lowest birth rate at about 16 per 1,000 women with Massachusetts and Vermont following right behind.

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Though this study does not explain why the teen birth rate has dropped so significantly, previous research suggests that a combination of less teen sexual activity, more contraceptive use, and use of more effective contraceptive methods is responsible for this positive trend.

Of course, the United States still has a long way to go if we want to catch up with other industrialized nations which have far lower teen birth rates. Lithuania, for example, has a rate of 16 births per 1,000 young women 15 to 19 and Canada has only 14 births per 1,000. 

News Sexual Health

Average Penis Is Less Than Six Inches Long, Study Finds

Martha Kempner

Don't believe the hype. A new study finds the average penis is only 5.6 inches when erect.

A new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine has found that most men are not endowed like Dirk Diggler from Boogie Nights. In fact, most men have a penis that measures less than six inches long when erect.

The study, led by Indiana University researcher Debby Herbenick, surveyed 1,661 men, each of whom was asked to measure both the length and girth of his penis when erect. Men were also asked to tell the researchers how they attained the erection.

The largest penis in the survey measured in at 10.2 inches, while the smallest was 1.6 inches. Most men fell firmly in between, with the average penis measuring 5.6 inches in length and 4.8 inches in girth. The researchers found that characteristics such as race or sexual orientation were not good predictors of penis size.

However, men who reported attaining their erection through oral sex were on average larger than men who were alone when they became erect. Herbenick told LiveScience, “We don’t know if that means that when men have oral sex that it’s more arousing and they get a bigger erection, or means that men who have bigger penises could be getting more oral sex in the first place.”

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The data was collected as part of an earlier study comparing men’s use of a standard-sized condoms to the use of condoms specifically sized to fit their erect penis. Herbenick explained the results of that study to Rewire, saying, “We found that both standard and fitted condoms were comfortable for most men, and that some men on either end of the size continuum preferred condoms fitted to the size of their erect penis. Currently, ‘fitted’ condoms are no longer on the U.S. market. However, there’s a wider-than-ever range of condoms that are safe, effective, and pleasurable and that are available for men and their partners to choose from.”

Commentary Politics

A “Kerfluffle” Over Forced Ultrasound? An Open Letter to Governor McDonnell

Tara Casey

Governor Bob McDonnell is trying to play down the outrage over an intrusive law mandating unnecessary medical procedures by calling it a "kerfluffle," suggesting he is trying to "empower women," and spreading other misinformation about the bill.  A resident of Virginia responds.

As a Virginia citizen, and especially as a woman and a mother of a daughter, I have voiced my opposition to the mandatory ultrasound bill.  Although I participated in the public protests to this legislation, I also sought to engage legislators and other constituents in discussions tempered with mutual respect and moderate voice.  When the Virginia Senate passed this bill, I expressed my profound disappointment in what I viewed as the misguided failure of our legislative process.  Nevertheless, I strove to maintain an open dialogue, free of platitudes and presumptions.

This evening, I learned that my Governor does not hold to the same rules in this debate.

Last Friday, Governor McDonnell sat down with National Review Online’s Jim Geraghty to discuss “the kerfuffle over the ultrasound bill.”  I recommend this piece to every Virginian to read as the Governor has used this platform to express his perspective.

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Below are his words.  I would like to use this platform to share my responses:

“If you just read the papers, you have no idea what’s going on in the legislature because the reporting has been so poor this session.”

Governor, I have been there as a steadfast advocate and witness.  The reason people are outraged and protesting is that they have been paying attention, very close attention.  Sustained engagement in and educational outreach on the legislative process leading up this bill’s passage has been a civics lesson for many.  Please, do not blame the media for the response to this bill.

“I don’t think the objective of an abortion clinic is to try to talk women out of having the procedure. That obviously would not be positive for their bottom line.”

Governor, I encourage you to talk to a physician who has performed an abortion, because, based upon your comment, it would seem that you have not.  If you had, you would soon realize that “the bottom line” is not what motivates these physicians in practice.  To suggest otherwise would be an insult to their ethics and a gross mischaracterization.  Please, do not blame the physicians for what the legislature has done and your support for this bill.

“Despite the rhetoric of opponents, this was about empowering women with more medical and legal information that previously they were not required to get in order to give informed consent.”

Governor, Merriam-Webster has three definitions for “empower” – “to give official authority or legal power to; [to] enable; to promote the self-actualization or influence of.”  It defies basic comprehension of this word to deduce that a mandate represents empowerment.  In fact, this legislation thwarts any attempt at empowerment as it will interfere with a woman’s autonomous choice and assumes that her doctor would provide her insufficient information to make that choice.  The last time Virginia ever passed a mandated medical procedure was the forced sterilization of the mentally ill, a scenario in which there is no presence of empowerment.  Please, do not blame a misunderstanding of the word “empower” for your “kerfluffle.”

“Informed consent is required for every invasive medical procedure, from getting your ears pierced to having an abortion.”

Governor, even in an illustrative context, an abortion should not be placed on the same plane of medical procedures as an ear piercing.  Ears are pierced at kiosks in the mall.  Invasive medical procedures are performed by specially trained medical personnel in medical settings.  Your relation of an ear piercing to an abortion reveals either your complete insensitivity to this issue, or your complete ignorance.  Please do not blame a citizenry’s misunderstanding of this issue for this kerfuffle.

This is our Governor.  This is his perspective. 

Dear Reader, that is exactly what the “kerfuffle” is all about.


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