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Study links adolescent sexual experience to divorce

It is not uncommon for the effects and potential ramifications of a teenager’s (or adult’s) first sexual experience to continue for months, or even years, after the event itself. A new study has linked the age of a woman’s first sexual encounter to the likelihood that she will eventually divorce later in life.

In a study of approximately 3,800 women of a variety of backgrounds and marital statuses, researchers found that 31 percent of respondents who reported having sex for the first time during their teenage years were divorced within five years of getting married, and 47 percent were divorced within 10 years of their wedding day. In comparison, only about 15 percent of women who had sex for the first time as adults were divorced within five years, and 27 percent within 10 years.

However, there are several details and nuances hidden within those statistics. The researchers found that women who had their first sexual experience before they turned 16 were far more likely to divorce than those who waited until age 16 or 17. For the latter group, there was no significant link between early sexual activity and divorce.

In addition, women who were pressured or forced into their first sexual experience, and even those who had mixed feelings about it, were much more likely to divorce than those who chose to enter into a sexual relationship and who were confident in their decision. Also, other factors that result from or that are related to early sexual relationships, such as pregnancy, increased the risk of divorce for some survey respondents.

Source: Eastern Iowa Health, “UI study examines link between teen sex and divorce rate,” 14 June 2011

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