Negative feelings about the timing of first sexual intercourse: findings from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study
This study investigates the association between negative feelings about the first intercourse timing and sociodemographic and contextual factors. We hypothesized that girls and adolescents with an older first sexual partner will be more likely to report negative feelings and that prevalence of those feelings will vary across countries.
Adolescents (N = 6073, mean age = 15.6 ± 0.34), from Bulgaria, France, Ireland, and Scotland, taking part in the 2013/2014 HBSC study, were asked about sexual initiation, their age and partner’s age at first intercourse, and their feeling about the timing of first intercourse.
One-fifth of the 1321 adolescents who had had sexual intercourse reported negative feelings about the first intercourse timing. Girls, adolescents from low affluent families, and those with an older first partner were more likely to report negative feelings. However, after adjustment for covariates, only girls and those from less affluent families had significantly higher odds of reporting negative feelings.
Sexual education programmes need to explicitly address decision-making around timing of first intercourse in order to reduce negative feelings, with a special attention to gender and social inequalities.
KeywordsAdolescence First sexual intercourse Negative feelings International comparisons HBSC
The authors thank the schools and students who participated to the 2014 HBSC survey. The HBSC survey is an international study carried out in collaboration with WHO/EURO. The International Coordinator of the 2013/2014 survey was Dr Joanna Inchley (University of St Andrews, Scotland) and the Data Bank Manager was Professor Oddrun Samdal (University of Bergen, HBSC Data Management Centre, Norway). We would also like to thank the following Principal Investigators of national HBSC Teams who gave permission to use national data from the given country: Lidiya Vasileva (Bulgaria), Emmanuelle Godeau (France), Saoirse Nic Gabhainn (Ireland) and Joanna Inchley (Scotland). We gratefully acknowledge HBSC Sexual Health Focus Group, Alina Cosma (CAHRU, University of St Andrews, United-Kingdom), Saoirse Nic Gabhainn (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland), Einar B. Thorsteinsson (University of New England, Australia), Marta Reis (University of Lisbon, Portugal), Katia Castetbon (ESP-ULB, Brussels, Belgium), and Virginie Ehlinger (Inserm U1027, Toulouse, France) for their valuable comments on the first version of the manuscript. For details on HBSC, see http://www.hbsc.org.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no Conflict of interest.
Each country obtained approval from institutional or national ethical boards according to national procedures and guidelines and the study is conducted in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
In all countries, parents were informed about the study. Informed consent was sought from students in Bulgaria. Passive parental consent was obtained in France and Scotland. In Ireland active or passive consent was obtained based on the school’s discretion. Young people were informed about the survey and were free to decline participation, leave blank any questions they did not wish to answer and that they could withdraw from participation at any time if they wished.
- Bajos N, Bozon M (2008) Enquête sur la sexualité en France: Pratiques, genre et santé. La Découverte, ParisGoogle Scholar
- Currie C, Inchley J, Molcho M, Lenzi M, Veselska Z, Wild F (eds) (2014) Health behaviour in school-aged children (HBSC), study protocol: background, methodology and mandatory items for the 2013/14 survey. St Andrews, UK: Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit (CAHRU), University of St AndrewsGoogle Scholar
- Guleria S, Juul KE, Munk C, Hansen BT, Arnheim-Dahlström L, Liaw K-L, Nygård M, Kjaer SK (2017) Contraceptive non-use and emergency contraceptive use at first sexual intercourse among nearly 12 000 Scandinavian women. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 96:286–294. https://doi.org/10.1111/aogs.13088 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Inchley J, Currie D, Young T, Samdal O, Torsheim T, Auguston L, Mathison F, Aleman-Diaz A, Molcho M, Weber M, Barnekow V (eds) (2016) Growing up unequal: gender and socioeconomic differences in young people's health and well-being.: Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study: international report from the 2013/2014 survey. Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for Europe (Health Policy for Children and Adolescents, No7)Google Scholar
- Madkour AS, de Looze M, Ma P, Halpern CT, Farhat T, Ter Bogt TFM, Ehlinger V, Nic Gabhainn S, Currie C, Godeau E (2014) Macro-level age norms for the timing of sexual initiation and adolescents’ early sexual initiation in 17 European countries. J Adolesc Health 55:114–121. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.12.008 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Mercer CH, Wellings K, Macdowall W, Copas AJ, McManus S, Erens B, Fenton KA, Johnson AM (2006) First sexual partnerships–age differences and their significance: empirical evidence from the 2000 British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (‘Natsal 2000’). J Adolesc Health 39:87–95. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2005.10.007 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Parent A-S, Teilmann G, Juul A, Skakkebaek NE, Toppari J, Bourguignon J-P (2003) The timing of normal puberty and the age limits of sexual precocity: variations around the world, secular trends, and changes after migration. Endocr Rev 24:668–693. https://doi.org/10.1210/er.2002-0019 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Roberts C, Freeman J, Samdal O, Schnohr CW, de Looze ME, Nic Gabhainn S, Iannotti R, Rasmussen M (2009) The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study: methodological developments and current tensions. Int J Public Health 54(Suppl 2):140–150. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00038-009-5405-9 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Volpe EM, Hardie TL, Cerulli C, Sommers MS, Morrison-Beedy D (2013) What’s age got to do with it? Partner age difference, power, intimate partner violence, and sexual risk in urban adolescents. J Interpers Violence 28:2068–2087. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260512471082 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Young H, Költő A, Reis M, Saewyc EM, Moreau N, Burke L, Cosma A, Windlin B, Gabhainn SN, Godeau E (2016) Sexual Health questions included in the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study: an international methodological pilot investigation. BMC Med Res Methodol 16:169. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12874-016-0270-8 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Young H, Burke L, Nic Gabhainn S (2018) Sexual intercourse, age of initiation and contraception among adolescents in Ireland: findings from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Ireland study. BMC Public Health 18:362. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-5217-z CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar