First sexual intercourse and subsequent regret in three developing countries

J Adolesc Health. 2012 Mar;50(3):271-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.07.012. Epub 2011 Oct 12.


Purpose: Adolescents who engage in sex can be affected by a range of negative physical and psychological consequences. We intend to analyze the reasons behind first sex, regret, and the association between reasons and regret.

Methods: A questionnaire was implemented to 8,495 high schools students aged 14-18 years residing in the Philippines, El Salvador, and Peru. Sexually active participants responded whether several circumstances were reasons involved in their first sexual relationship. They also responded whether they regretted having already had sexual relationships.

Results: More than one-third of respondents reported at least one external pressure leading to first sex, and about one-half reported at least one reason implying getting carried away by sexual arousal. More females affirmed they regret having already had sex. Logistic regression shows that reasons for first sex associated with regret were partner insistence, "uncontrolled situations," and seeing sexual images. These reasons were associated with regret even when love was also reported as related to first sex.

Conclusions: Adolescent sexual experience is often motivated by pressure (such as external pressure [because most friends already had sex or because of partner insistence]) and circumstances (such as getting carried away by sexual arousal [through an "uncontrolled situation" or viewing sexual images]) that lower the control over their decisions concerning sex, rather than by mature decisions, and this may result in later regret. Adolescents should be helped by parents, educators, and policy makers to be aware of these characteristics of sexual behavior of adolescents and empowered to make assertive and informed decisions concerning their sexuality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Arousal
  • Coitus / psychology*
  • El Salvador
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Love
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Peru
  • Philippines