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Many regret having sex too young
[Posted: Fri 11/04/2008 by Deborah Condon www.irishhealth.com]
Irish teenagers who have sexual intercourse before the age of 17 are significantly less likely to use contraception the first time they have sex, compared to those who wait until they are older, new research has shown.
According to the findings from the Crisis Pregnancy Agency (CPA), almost one-third of men and one in five women aged 18-24 had sex before the age of 17. Of these, almost 17% of men and 14.5% of women had sex for the first time at the age of 16.
Among those who had sex at 16, almost half (43%) of women and one in five (19%) men expressed regret at the timing, saying that they ‘should have waited longer’.
The research revealed that almost 15% of men and nearly 8% of women had sex for the first time before the age of 16. Of these, 37% of men and 59% of women said they regretted having sex for the first time at such an early age.
“For those who had sex before 17, the research shows the impact of early first sex on the individual’s later sexual health and suggests that some young people are saying they are having sex at a time in their lives that is not right for them. We need to equip young people with the knowledge and skills they need to delay their first sexual experience”, explained CPA chairperson, Katharine Bulbulia.
The research showed that those who had sex before the age of 17 were half as likely to use contraception the first time they had sex, compared to those who waited until they were older.
The CPA also pointed to international research, which indicates that the use of contraception at first sex has a strong influence on subsequent behaviour. This explains why women who have sexual intercourse before the age of 17 are almost 70% more likely to experience a crisis pregnancy later in life and are three times more likely to have an abortion, compared to those who wait until they are older.
The research is based on three sub-reports of the Irish Study of Sexual Health and Relationships, a survey which was carried out in 2006. The sub-reports have just been published and provide an in-depth analysis of that survey.
According to Ms Bulbulia, the CPA is currently planning a campaign to encourage adolescents to delay first sex, ‘which we hope to launch this year’.
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