Objectives: The Maltese population traditionally harbours Roman Catholic beliefs that have been gradually secularised. The present study sets out to quantify the consequences of more liberal sexual attitudes in this community.
Methods: We reviewed the reproductive and sexual health indicators reported from Malta and from other selected European countries. We then analysed the findings of a questionnaire study which was carried out among 200 Maltese and 2200 other European individuals to investigate various aspects of their sexual history.
Results: A greater proportion of Maltese births occur in teenagers but the out-of-wedlock maternity rate in Malta appears to be the third lowest in Europe. However, the rate appears to have nearly trebled over seven years. Sexually transmitted infections rates in Maltese are either similar to or lower than those reported from the other European countries. The Maltese reported a higher mean age at first intercourse and a lower mean number of sexual partners mainly in women aged over 35 years. They received an earlier sexual education but they still predominantly resorted to unreliable contraception methods at their first sexual encounter.
Conclusions: The study confirms that sexual behaviour has changed. The educational support to deal with these altered practices is in place but still needs to be reinforced.