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Int Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2011 Mar;37(1):30-9. doi: 10.1363/3703011.

Associations between family factors and premarital heterosexual relationships among female college students in Tehran.

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Population Studies and Research Centre in Asia and the Pacific, Tehran, Iran.



Although premarital heterosexual relationships, especially those involving sexual contact, are discouraged in Iran, particularly for females, a considerable minority of young people are involved in such relationships. However, the determinants of such relationships have not been identified, especially those pertaining to family.


In 2005-2006, a random sample of 1,378 unmarried female college students from four universities in Tehran completed anonymous, self-administered surveys that asked whether the respondent had ever had a premarital heterosexual relationship. Bivariate and multivariate regression analyses were conducted to examine associations between such relationships and family factors, including socioeconomic measures, parent-child communication and closeness, family values and atmosphere, and parental control.


Having had a boyfriend was positively associated with paternal income (odds ratio, 1.3), maternal educational attainment (1.3) and more liberal family values (1.3), and negatively associated with parent-child closeness (0.6). Very strict and very relaxed parental control during adolescence were both associated with having had a boyfriend, but only the former was associated with having had premarital sex. In addition, respondents were more likely to have had premarital intercourse if they did not live with both parents (2.0) or if their family had more liberal values (1.3); they had reduced odds of having had sex if they had a closer relationship with their parents (0.7).


Good family relationships may reduce the likelihood that youth will engage in premarital sex, possibly by fostering parent-child closeness. Moderate parental control may discourage premarital relationships more effectively than lesser or greater degrees of control.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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