Summary: Early Initiation of Sex Among Girls Increases Negative Life Outcomes

Girls who begin sexual activity at earlier ages and have high numbers of non-marital sex partners are far more likely to have a wide variety of negative life outcomes including: increased rates of infection with sexually transmitted diseases, out-of-wedlock pregnancy and birth, increased single parenthood, decreased marital stability, increased maternal and child poverty, increased abortion, increased depression and decreased happiness.

  • According to a report written by the Heritage Foundation, girls who begin sexual activity at earlier ages and have high numbers of non-marital sex partners are far more likely to have a wide variety of negative life outcomes. These outcomes include: increased rates of infection with sexually transmitted diseases, out-of-wedlock pregnancy and birth, increased single parenthood, decreased marital stability, increased maternal and child poverty, increased abortion, increased depression and decreased happiness. Researchers of this study also found that: girls who begin having sex at age 13 are twice as likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease as those who start having sex at 21; nearly 40 percent of those whose first sexual experience occurs at age 13 or 14 will give birth outside of marriage (versus 9 percent of those who wait until age 21); girls who began having sex at age 13 or 14 are more than three times more likely to become single parents than are women who start having sex in their early 20s; girls who became sexually active at 13 or 14 were less than half as likely to be in stable marriages in their 30s (compared to those who delayed sexual activity until after their teenage years); and about 27 percent of mothers who started having sex at age 13 or 14 were living in poverty at the time of the survey (versus 11.7 percent of those who first had sex in their early 20s).1

1The Harmful Effects of Early Sexual Activity and Multiple Sexual Partners Among Women: A Book of Charts, The Heritage Foundation, June 23, 2003, pp. 1-25.

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