Why our teenagers are waiting longer before having sex for the first time

Claire Murphy

YOUNG people are waiting longer to have sex.

New research has revealed that teenagers and those in their early 20s are opting for chastity until later in life.

The HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme survey showed that 15pc of 18-25 year olds in 2010 said they had not yet had sex, compared with 13pc of the same age group in 2003.

The majority of girls are waiting until they have turned 18 before they have sex.

But 28pc of boys admitted they slept with someone before reaching 17 -- the age of consent -- and 17pc of girls admitted the same.

The findings are clear that our young generation are acutely aware of the importance of contraception.

A total of 89pc of modern 18-25 year olds and 80pc of 26-35 year olds used contraception the first time they had sex, compared with 61pc of 36-45 year olds.


Professor Hannah McGee of the Royal College of Surgeons said that this generation should be praised for their mature decision-making.

"These are very positive findings, particularly at a time when teenagers and young people are under increased pressure to become sexually active," the researcher said.

But despite the changed attitude to contraception, the pregnancy rate for under 25- year-olds had not changed.

And more women under 25 who become pregnant are likely to see it as a crisis than in 2003, with higher numbers saying they were "too young".

While 52pc described the pregnancy at that age as a crisis in 2003, this has now risen to 66pc.

Better sex education has been linked to increased awareness of contraception, with 70pc saying the instruction was helpful in their adult relationships.

And those who believed the education was helpful were twice as likely to use contraception.

But parents are playing a lesser role in sex education than in 2003, down to 10pc to 72pc. One in two received sex education in school only and 32pc both in school and at home.

There is still a negative attitude to women carrying condoms -- one in four saying it was not a good choice.

Just 41pc knew about the 72-hour window in which the morning-after Pill can be taken effectively.

More are also being screened for sexually transmitted diseases with 20pc of men and 32pc of women tested for infections other than HIV -- 14pc of these resulted in a positive diagnosis.