How first sex at young age influences the health of teen girls

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Puberty can bring strong changes in the body, psychological and sexual behavior due to increased hormones. Family and school environment can also change teens’ behavior and sexual activities during this period.

The first experience of sex is occurring earlier in teen girls. This has been related to health problems and subsequent risky sexual behavior.

Many factors can contribute to the young age of first sex, including low socioeconomic status, limited education, divorced parents, smoking, drug use, etc.

In a review newly published in Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, researchers explained how first sex at young age influenced the health of teen girls.

Researchers extracted data published in 28 studies and 41 references. They found that girls who have first sex at age 14 or younger are less likely to use birth control.

More than 33% of girls do not use contraceptives during their sex, and this increases unplanned pregnancy at an early age.

In addition, pregnant teen girls have more risk of preterm neonatal birth and infant death. First pregnancy before 16 predicts repeated unplanned pregnancy.

Several factors, including poor knowledge of sexual health, their attitude toward school, and living in a family with alcohol abuse, are risk factors related to teen pregnancy.

Early first sex is also associated with more depression and a distorted self-image. Often teen girls have first sex under the pressure of their partner. Therefore, it is not their well-considered choice. Girls with early first sex are more likely to get sexual abuse.

Researchers also find that smoking and too much alcohol drinking are related to early first sex in teen girls. Girls whose fathers are not present have a higher risk for early first sex. These girls may also have more partners and higher risk to get sexually transmitted diseases.

The age and the enjoyment of the experience at first sex can affect the sexual satisfaction that a woman experience in subsequent years. A positive experience is related to better body and emotional satisfaction. In contrast, a bad experience can damage the self-image and wellbeing of a teen girl.

Sexually active teen girls can have more mental health problems, attention deficits, aggressive behavior, and communication difficulties.

Researchers suggest several factors that can protect from early sexual behavior:

  • Knowledge of HIV/AIDS
  • Living with both parents
  • Higher socioeconomic status
  • Better grades at school
  • Feeling that parents care for them
  • Parental monitoring
  • Sex education at school

Citation: Lara LAS, Abdo CHN. (2016). Age at Time of Initial Sexual Intercourse and Health of Adolescent Girls. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, 29: 417-423. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpag.2015.11.012
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