Characteristics Associated With Sex After Periods of Abstinence Among Sexually Experienced Young Women
March 29, 2010
The intermittent nature of adolescent sex presents a challenge to pregnancy prevention efforts, according to the authors, who added that "understanding why sexually experienced adolescents have sex after a period of abstinence will help clinicians tailor counseling."
The subjects of the study were 354 adolescent females recruited at urban primary-care clinics. The women were interviewed and tested for STDs every three months, and they were asked to complete three months worth of daily diaries twice a year. They were followed for up to 4.5 years between 1999 and 2006. Survival analyses were employed to estimate associations between intrapersonal, relationship and STD-related characteristics and the risk of ending an abstinence period with sex.
The participants reported 9,236 periods of abstinence, whose average length was 31 days. The risk of returning to sex after abstinence increased sharply for periods of less than 17 days (short), rose less steeply for periods of 17-39 days (intermediate), and was fairly steady for longer periods. For short periods, the risk of returning to sex increased with age, sexual interest, positive mood, partner support, relationship quality, and history of STD diagnosis more than three months ago (hazard ratios, 1.02-1.2). The risk decreased as negative mood increased (0.98) and was reduced among adolescents receiving a recent STD diagnosis (0.9). For intermediate periods, the association with a recent STD diagnosis became positive (1.4). For long periods of abstinence, sex was associated only with age, sexual interest and relationship quality.
"To provide targeted and timely sexual health counseling, clinicians may want to ask adolescents not only whether they are sexually active but also when they last had sex," the authors concluded.
Perspectives on Sexual & Reproductive Health
03.2010; Vol. 42; No. 1; doi: 10.1363/4204310; Mary A. Ott; Susan Ofner; Wanzhu Tu; Barry P. Katz; J. Dennis Fortenberry
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