Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 663-669

First online:

Sexual Regret in College Students

  • Sara B. OswaltAffiliated withDepartment of Health and Kinesiology, University of Texas at San AntonioDepartment of Health and Kinesiology, 6900 North Loop 1604 West, University of Texas at San Antonio Email author 
  • , Kenzie A. CameronAffiliated withProgram in Communication and Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, Northwestern University
  • , Jeffrey J. KoobAffiliated withDepartment of Social Work, California State University, Long Beach

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A questionnaire study was conducted to assess the relationship between sexual regret and sexual behaviors and demographic factors among 348 college-aged students prior to attending an educational program about sexual health issues. Analyses conducted on the portion of the sample who were sexually active (n = 270) indicated that the majority (71.9%, n = 194) has regretted their decision to engage in sexual activity at least once. The most cited reasons for regret by students included their sexual decision making as inconsistent with their morals (37%), an acknowledgment that alcohol influenced their decision (31.7%), the realization they did not want the same thing as their partner (27.9%), the lack of condom use (25.5%), feeling pressure by their partner (23.0%), and their desire to wait until marriage to have sex (15.4%). The only significant sex difference was that women reported regret due to feeling pressured by a partner more often than men. Multiple and logistic regression analyses indicated that the only significant predictor of regret regarding one's sexual decisions was the number of sexual partners. These results demonstrate the need for sexual educators to incorporate sexual regret into their curricula as the phenomenon of regret is more common than pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, the usual focus of sexuality education.

Key Words

sexual regret sexual behaviors sexual decision-making