|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chart|
"On average, women living in rural areas said they had their first sexual encounter earlier than women living in urban areas, according to the survey. The mean age of first sexual intercourse among women living in rural areas was 16.6 years old. For women living in urban areas, the average age of first intercourse was 17.4," Patti Neighmond reports for NPR.
About 41 percent of metro-area women had no children, significantly more than the 30 percent in rural areas. And women in rural areas are slightly more likely to have two or more children than women in urban areas are.
"When asked about contraception, one in five women in both groups reported they'd had sexual intercourse without using contraception. And, notably, more women in urban areas reported using less effective birth control methods to prevent pregnancy (a condom or withdrawal, for example) than their rural counterparts, who were more likely to use one of the most effective contraceptive methods — an IUD or sterilization," Neighmond reports.
Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, a research epidemiologist at the University of California, Davis, who wasn't involved in the study, told Neighmond that the difference in birth-control methods likely stems from the fact that women in rural areas can't access reversible methods of birth control as easily. "If we really want to help young women and teens have a healthy and safe sexual life, we need to get effective resources and education to them before 16," she said.