Background: In Nepal, as in other Asian countries, the issue of sexuality still remains a taboo. Despite this fact, an increasing number of sexual activities is being reported by Nepalese students. This trend warrants serious and timely attention. Due to the sensitivity of the topic of premarital sexuality, youth receive inadequate education, guidance and services on reproductive health. The main objectives of this paper are to explore the sexual behavior especially focusing on prevalence of premarital sex among college men and to investigate the factors surrounding premarital sexual behavior.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey of college students was conducted in April-May 2006. A self-administered questionnaire was completed by 573 male students. Association between premarital sex and the explanatory variables was assessed in bivariate analysis using Chi-square tests. The associations were further explored using multivariate logistic analysis.
Results: Despite the religious and cultural restrictions, about two-fifths of survey respondents (39%) reported that they have had premarital sex. The study has also shown that substantial proportions of students indulge in sexual activities as well as risky sexual behavior. Sex with commercial sex workers, multiple sex partners, and inconsistence use of condom with non-regular partner was common among the students. Less than two in five male students (57%) had used condom at the first sexual intercourse.The prevalence of premarital sex varied on different settings. Older students aged 20 and above were more likely to have premarital sex compared with younger students aged 15-19. Men who had liberal attitude towards male virginity at marriage were almost two times more likely to have engaged in premarital sex compared to their counterparts who have conservative attitude towards male virginity at marriage. Moreover, those students who believe in Hindu religion were more than two times (OR = 2.5) more likely to have premarital sex compared with those who follow other religions. Furthermore, those men who have close unmarried friends who have experienced premarital sexual intercourse were eight times (OR = 8.4) more likely to be sexually active compared to those who did not have such sexually active friends.
Conclusion: Prevalence of premarital sexual intercourse and risky sexual behavior are not uncommon in Nepal. Young people are exposed to health hazards due to their sexual behavior; hence sex education should be provided. School or college based sexuality education could benefit even out-of-school youths, because their partners often are students.