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Updated 28 November 2016

Too young for sex?

"The young people of today are having sex earlier and earlier!" How often have you heard people say that? You may even have said it yourself, but is it actually true?

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"The young people of today are having sex earlier and earlier!" How often have you heard people say that? You may even have said it yourself, but is it actually true?

While deciding exactly what constitutes sex is more complicated than you may have imagined, Health24’s Great South African Sex Survey of 2010 does shed some light on the age when South Africans start doing it.

Some 17% of the men participating in the survey say that they first had sex when they were younger than 16, compared to 14% of the women. But is sex under 16 becoming more common among younger people today than it’s ever been?

Actually, older men are only slightly more likely to say they first had sex when they were 16 or older than their younger compatriots. Some 18% of men under 40 say they first had sex when they were under 16 compared to 16% of men over 40.

For women, there is no indication that they are starting to have sex at a younger age than in years gone by. Quite the opposite, in fact. A whopping 27% of women in their 50s say that they broke their duck before the age of 16. The same is true for only 13% of women under 30.

Our intrepid researchers have a theory about this particular observation. Women in their 50s were born in the 1950s and they were teenagers or pre-teens during the 1960s and early 1970s - the period when the "pill" first became readily available. The availability of effective and cheap contraception is likely to have given young women of that era the confidence to experiment with sex at an earlier age than before. The rapid spread of and the growing awareness about HIV/AIDS in later decades is probably responsible for the fact that younger women have tended to start having sex somewhat later in life.

So if you overhear people complaining about "the youth of today" having sex at such an early age, tell them to get their facts straight. Or better yet, tell them to read our 2010 Sex Survey.

(Andrew Luyt, Health24, February 2010)

Are women more sexually responsble than men?

Sisters are starting it themselves

Any questions? Ask the Sexologist

 
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