Short-term positive and negative consequences of sex based on daily reports among college students

J Sex Res. 2012;49(6):558-69. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2011.589101. Epub 2011 Jun 27.


Because sexual behavior may be associated with a broader range of outcomes than physical consequences like sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, it is important to understand consequences of sex that may influence mental and social well-being in emerging adulthood. This article describes the short-term intrapersonal and interpersonal consequences reported by college students on days they engage in vaginal sex and what factors predict experiencing particular consequences. Data are from first-year college students who reported vaginal sex on at least one of 28 sampled days (mean age = 18.5 years; 53% female; 30% Hispanic/Latino [HL]; of non-HL participants, 30% were African American, 22% were Asian American, 35% were European American, and 12% were multiracial; N = 209 people and N = 679 person days). Participants reported positive consequences more frequently than negative consequences. Non-use of contraception and sex with a non-dating partner were associated with greater odds of reporting negative consequences. These findings have implications for messages about casual sex and use of contraception in sex education and sexual health programming.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Contraception Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / psychology
  • Students / psychology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Unsafe Sex / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult