Long-term consequences of early sexual initiation on young adult health: A causal inference approach


By Kari C. Kugler, Ph.D., Sara A. Vasilenko, Ph.D., Nicole M. Butera, B.A., and Donna L. Coffman, Ph.D.
Dec 9, 2015

Although early sexual initiation has been linked to negative outcomes, it is unknown whether these effects are causal. In this study, we use propensity score methods to estimate the causal effect of early sexual initiation on young adult sexual risk behaviors and health outcomes using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. We found that early sexual initiation predicted having 2 or more partners (for both males and females) and having a sexually transmitted infection in the past year (females only) but did not predict depressive symptoms in the past week (for either gender). These results underscore the importance of continued programmatic efforts to delay age of sexual initiation, particularly for females.

Early sexual initiation is associated with a number of negative risk behaviors and negative health outcomes, including having more sexual partners (Coker et al., 1994Kaplan et al., 2013O’Donnell, O’Donnell, & Stueve, 2001Sandfort, Orr, Hirsch, & Santelli, 2008), inconsistent condom use (Coker et al., 1994Kaplan et al., 2013), and STIs (Coker et al., 1994Kaestle et al., 2005). In addition, early sexual initiation is associated with an increased likelihood of depression one year later for adolescent girls (Coker et al., 1994Spriggs & Halpern, 2008). However, not all studies have found such negative effects (Sabia, 2006), and longitudinal research suggests that the impact of early sexual initiation either decreases or disappears by young adulthood (Kaestle et al., 2005Spriggs & Halpern, 2008).

Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5435379/

Comment: Most articles and reports show that the parents and teachers don’t want teenagers to have sexual intercourse before marriage (which I think is very vague), so I researched on the consequences of having sex at a young age and most results I found were ancient. This article here is the most recent one I found and I think the negative effects it mentioned, like STIs, unwanted pregnancy, depression, etc., can be solved by proper sex education. Most concerns with young people (like 16-20 yrs old) are the ability of giving consent, which can also be resolved with education ahead of time.