TEENAGERS are now under increasing pressure to have sex at a younger age with many regretting it later.
Launching its new campaign, Crisis Pregnancy Agency said almost a third of young men and a quarter of young women under 25 had their first sexual experience before they were 17.
Prof Hannah Magee, of the Royal College of Surgeons, said that even though many teenagers still used contraception when having sex for the first time, one-in-10 did not.
She also said that having sex at such an early age was often something that the person was likely to regret once they get older, even if they avoided the perils of teenage pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease.
"More of that group are saying: I should have waited longer," she said.
The new Crisis Pregnancy Agency's (CPA) campaign, called b4udecide, will involve literature being sent to schools and youth clubs next year, as well as a website.
The campaign was devised following talks with more than 200 teenagers and 40 organisations from around the country that deal with young people.
Another study by the CPA showed that many young women, in particular, felt pressured to have sex, with 31pc of girls and 8pc of boys saying there was pressure from their partner to have sex.
Orla McGowan, from the CPA, said young people were heavily influenced by their friends when it came to the age they first have sex, and also the influence of the media, such as soap operas and the problem pages of magazines.
She also said that parents can sometimes find it difficult to get their children to open up about the issue of sex.