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Coll Antropol. 2007 Apr;31 Suppl 2:121-30.

Early sexual intercourse and risk factors in Croatian adolescents.

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School Medicine Service, Croatian National Institute of Public Health, Zagreb, Croatia.


Sexual behaviour in adolescence is a sensitive issue and has possible immediate and long term medical and psychical consequences. The aim of the study was to examine whether early sexual intercourse varies by gender and how is associated with unhealthy behaviour and factors of psycho-social well-being. 773 boys and 857 girls of 15.5 years old, included in a representative national school-based survey, conducted in Croatia in 2006, were invited to fill in anonymous questionnaires. Sexual experience before the age of 16 years was reported by 28.6% of the boys and 16.5% of the girls. Early sexual experience in boys was associated with smoking, drinking of alcohol, marijuana taking, physical fighting, and bullying other The odds ratio was highest for smoking. (OR:8. 1; CI:5.4-12. 1). For girls the same variables were associated with the early sexual intercourse, marijuana use being the strongest independent predictor (OR:8.0; CI:5.0-12.6). While controlled for other behaviours, daily smoking remained the strongest predictor for both genders. Girls who had early sexual experience were more prone to be dissatisfied with their health (OR:2.9; CI:2.0-4.2), with their life (OR:2.1; CI:1.4-3.0), communication with father and mother (OR:1.9; CI:1.2-2.8 and OR:1. 7; CI:1.1-2.6) and reported more psychosomatic symptoms (OR:2.9; CI:2.0-4.3). For both genders odds were higher if they had good communication with the friend of the opposite gender. Evenings spent out with friends were associated to early sexual experience in boys and girls as well as poorer school achievement. Early menarche was associated with the probability of being engaged in the early sexual intercourse and with smoking, marijuana use and psychosomatic symptoms. Early sexual intercourse is associated with unhealthy behaviour such as smoking, substance abuse, aggressiveness and lower psychosocial well-being. Preventive educational programmes should follow multi-facet approaches and recognize differences between boys and girls. Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination could be part of a comprehensive approach and is not to be viewed as an isolated activity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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