Teen Girls More Likely to Have Unprotected Sex Their First Time

Filed under: In The News, Sex, Research Reveals: Teens

More girls are engaging in risky sexual behaviors. Credit: Getty Images

The stereotype of randy teen boys with sex on the brain may lead you to believe guys engage in more risky sexual behavior than their female counterparts. But, it's teen girls who are actually more likely to jump into bed sans condoms during their first sexual encounters, according to research presented this week at an American Public Health Association meeting in Denver.

Teenage girls are 30 percent more likely than boys to have unprotected sex the first time, regardless of parental warnings and previous sex education, according to the research reported on WebMD.

But the risky sexual behavior is not because girls just wanna have fun. They want love, which outweighs what they may have learned in sex education classes or from parental lectures, Nicole Weller, the Arizona State University doctoral student who led the research, tells WebMD.

The findings suggest that "females are starting to engage in risky behaviors," and may not worry about protection if "they love and trust their partner," Weller tells WebMD.

Weller looked at data collected from 5,012 young people between the ages of 11 and 19 from the National Survey of Family Growth, a comprehensive ongoing study that started in 1973. The survey was done in such a way as to encourage young people to tell the truth, using computers instead of face-to-face interviews.

"When people are talking about sex, oftentimes they aren't necessarily truthful," Weller tells WebMD. "Boys are going to lie in one direction and girls are going to lie in the other direction."

Weller tells WebMD that teens between 15 and 19 are delaying their first sexual encounters to about age 17.5, compared to age 15 a decade ago, but that young people in that age group have the highest percentage of sexually transmitted diseases.

Teens raised without religion were 14 percent more likely than those reared with it to say their first sexual intercourse was unprotected, Weller says.

She tells WebMD her findings were surprising because boys generally have been thought to be more prone to risky behaviors, such as engaging in unprotected sex. But, she says, that's apparently no longer the case, if it ever was.

However, Laura Lindberg, senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute, tells CNN boys may still have a lot to do with the girls' decisions. She says teenage girls are less likely than boys to want to have sex when it happens for the first time, and may not do as good a job advocating for birth control. Lindberg adds that contraception used during first sex is 80 percent condoms, meaning birth control largely depends on the boy.

Other key findings of the study reported on WebMD:

  • Less than 1 percent of those questioned had their first sexual experience at age 11.
  • Two and a half percent reported their first sexual intercourse at age 12 and 6.7 percent at 13.
  • About 13 percent reported having sexual intercourse for the first time at age 14, about 16 percent at age 15, some 20 percent at 16, around 23 percent at 17, 12 percent at 18, and 5 percent at 19.
  • African American teens were 41 percent more likely than whites to have unprotected sex in their first encounters.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.