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J Adolesc Health. 2006 Oct;39(4):588-95. Epub 2006 Jul 10.

Having sex and condom use: potential risks and benefits reported by young, sexually inexperienced adolescents.

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1
Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94118-6106, USA. widdicel@peds.ucsf.edu

Abstract

PURPOSE:

This study determines what young adolescents themselves identify as the potential positive and negative outcomes of having sex, using a condom and not using a condom.

METHODS:

Using written surveys, 418 ethnically diverse ninth graders, 86% of whom had never had sex, responded to a scenario describing two adolescents who had sex. One randomly selected group read a scenario in which a condom was used; the other group read a scenario in which no condom was used. All participants were asked to list the risks and benefits of having sex. Depending on the scenario read, participants were asked to list the risks and benefits of either using or not using a condom. Responses were coded thematically. Percentages of responses were compared with chi-square analysis in total and by gender.

RESULTS:

Participants spontaneously identified a broad range of health and psychosocial risks and benefits of having sex, using a condom and not using a condom. A strong aversion to pregnancy was evident, and the risks of sexually transmitted disease/human immunodeficiency virus (STD/HIV) and condom malfunction were commonly mentioned. Benefits of using a condom included pregnancy and STD prevention. Benefits of both having sex and of not using a condom included improving the relationship, fun, and pleasure. Gender differences emerged across questions.

CONCLUSIONS:

Communication with adolescents regarding safe sexual activity could benefit from widening the communication from a focus on health risks to include discussion of the psychosocial risks and benefits that adolescents themselves think about with respect to sex and condom use.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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