Young people start sex later, new research shows

Half of the people between 12 and 25 have their first sexual experience at an average age of 18.6. Which is 18 months later than five years ago, according to a large, new study. And there were more interesting results...

Sex under 25, the name of the research, was carried out by Rutgers (the international centre of expertise on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Netherlands) and Soa Aids Nederland. Besides youngsters having sex later, it found that girls seem to be choosing contraception more consciously, searching for the solutiuon that fits them best. Use of the pill has decreased, while more girls use an Intra-Uterine Device (IUD).

Good news is also that the number of youngsters that have been forced to do something against their will has decreased since 2012. On the other hand, the number of young people that sent a naked picture or movie of themselves has increased. What’s even more worrying, is that 40% don’t use a condom during a one-night stand.

Netflix instead of sex
According to researcher Hanneke de Graaf (Rutgers), the norm of what young people consider an appropriate age to start have sex might be shifting. ‘It also seems as though they’re less interested in sex than earlier generations,’ De Graaf says to newspaper De Volkskrant. That can be related to the increased usage of internet. ‘You can spend entire weekends with Netflix and Facebook, and that’s time that isn’t spent on sex.’

She mentions that people having less sex is a worldwide trend. Social media as a distraction can be a reason, but there’s more to be thought of – like students lacking privacy because they live with their parents until a later age. Or relations becoming more and more equal, meaning women are less inclined to ‘give in’ when their partner wants to have sex.

Older sex is safe sex
Last year, researchers at Erasmus MC discovered that adolescents who have a good relationship with their parents start having sex at a later age than their peers who don’t. An important find, because starting sex after 16 leads to a healthier sexual development. Moreover, the risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease, or becoming a teenage parent are lower.

A possible explanation is that these youngsters have more experience with friendships and intimacy, and know more about the risks of unsafe sex. The relationship between mothers and daughters is especially important for the sexual development of girls. It goes less strongly for boys, probably because mothers spend more time with their daughters and talk more about sexuality. Also, Dutch fathers usually spend less time with their children than mothers. ‘It’s important that we look at how boys can be better reached to sexually educate them, and how the role of fathers can be strengthened,’ says researcher Raquel Nogueira Avelare Silva of Erasmus MC.

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