Sexual debut and the use of contraception among adolescents


Sexual debut and the use of contraception among adolescents

Barbara Woynarowska

National Research Institute of Mother and Child, Warsaw,


Aim. Presentation data concerning: frequency of sexual

initiation, age of first intercourse and use of contraception among adolescents

in Poland and other 29 countries.

Method and material. An international standard

questionnaire from HBSC study (Health Behaviour in School-aged Children: A WHO

Collaborative Cross-national Study) was used. The sexual behaviour items were

adapted from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) in the US. Representative

samples of adolescents were used: (1) HBSC survey 2001/2002, 15-year-olds in 30

countries in Europe, Canada and Israel (total sample size – 44601, in Poland

2152) – (2) Polish survey 2005, 16- and 18-year-olds (N=2796).

Results. Some key findings are presented in table below:

  Poland 30 HBSC countries
  Boys (yrs) Girls (yrs) Boys (15 yrs) Girls (15 yrs)
  15 16 18 15 16 18 Mean Range Mean Range
Having had sexual intercourse (%) 20,9 34,9 49,6 9,2 20,6 47,3 28,1 18,0-70,8 20,2 9,2-78,8
Mean age at first sexual intercourse (years) 14,1 15 16,6 14,7 15,7 16,9 14 13,5-14,5 14,3 13,6-14,9
Having lifetime 3 or more sexual partners (%) 37,3 35,3 12,2 13,3
Use at least one method of contraception (%)* 73,2 82,8 91,4 72,5 86,8 92,7 86,1 73,4-92,4 84,6 72,5-97,0
Use of condoms (%)* 81,7 78,2 86,6 81,9 73,5 76,1 80,2 72,6-91,2 69,6 57,6-89,1

* used during the last sexual intercourse by adolescent or his/her


In Poland the proportion of adolescents after sexual debut

dramatically increases with age and gender differences decreases with age (at

the age 18 years 49,6% of boys and 47,3 % of girls experienced sexual

intercourse). Among 18-year-olds the percentages reporting (lifetime) 3 or more

sexual partners was almost three times largest among boys (35,3%) than among

girls (13,3%).There is not difference between 16- and 18-year-olds. The

proportion of sexually active reporting the use at least one method of

contraception during last intercourse is similar for boys and girls and in both

gender increases with age. Boys are more likely than girls to report condom use

in the last intercourse, but there is not increase percentages of condom users

with age.


results of HBSC study carried out in 30 countries demonstrated differences

across countries in the proportion of 15-year-olds:


having had sexual intercourse (in both gender from 15% in Poland to 75% in



use during the last sexual intercourse: at least one form of contraception (from

73% in Poland to 95% in the Netherlands) and condom (from 64% in Finland to 89%

in Greece).

Mean age at first sexual intercourse ranges from 13,5 years in

Lithuania to 14,5 years in Ukraine. It is slightly lower for boys than for girls;

the largest gender difference (about 1 year) was found in Portugal.

Cross-national differences undoubtedly reflect fundamental cultural, social,

religious, educational and public policy differences across countries. Gaining

information about nature and extent of sexual behaviour among adolescents are

needed to help develop polices and programmes on young people sexual health.

Paper prepared in the frame of grant 2 P05D 064 27

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