Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 221–230

Prevalence and Predictors of Sexual Inexperience in Adulthood

  • Abigail A. Haydon
  • Mariah M. Cheng
  • Amy H. Herring
  • Annie-Laurie McRee
  • Carolyn Tucker Halpern
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10508-013-0164-3

Cite this article as:
Haydon, A.A., Cheng, M.M., Herring, A.H. et al. Arch Sex Behav (2014) 43: 221. doi:10.1007/s10508-013-0164-3

Abstract

The emergence of partnered sexual behavior represents an important developmental transition. However, little is known about individuals who remain sexually inexperienced well into adulthood. We used data from 2,857 individuals who participated in Waves I–IV of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) and reported no sexual activity (i.e., oral-genital, vaginal, or anal sex) by age 18 to identify, using discrete-time survival models, adolescent sociodemographic, biosocial, and behavioral characteristics that predicted adult sexual inexperience. The mean age of participants at Wave IV was 28.5 years (SD = 1.92). Over one out of eight participants who did not initiate sexual activity during adolescence remained abstinent as young adults. Sexual non-attraction significantly predicted sexual inexperience among both males (aOR = 0.5) and females (aOR = 0.6). Males also had lower odds of initiating sexual activity after age 18 if they were non-Hispanic Asian, reported later than average pubertal development, or were rated as physically unattractive (aORs = 0.6–0.7). Females who were overweight, had lower cognitive performance, or reported frequent religious attendance had lower odds of sexual experience (aORs = 0.7–0.8) while those who were rated by the interviewers as very attractive or whose parents had lower educational attainment had higher odds of sexual experience (aORs = 1.4–1.8). Our findings underscore the heterogeneity of this unique population and suggest that there are a number of different pathways that may lead to either voluntary or involuntary adult sexual inexperience. Understanding the meaning of sexual inexperience in young adulthood may have important implications for the study of sexuality development across the life course.

Keywords

Add HealthAbstinenceVirginityAsexuality

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abigail A. Haydon
    • 1
  • Mariah M. Cheng
    • 2
  • Amy H. Herring
    • 2
    • 3
  • Annie-Laurie McRee
    • 4
  • Carolyn Tucker Halpern
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.The FrameWorks InstituteWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Carolina Population Center, UNC Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiostatisticsUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  4. 4.Healthy Youth Development-Prevention Research CenterUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  5. 5.Department of Maternal and Child Health, UNC Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA