Background: Youth who begin early pre-marital sexual activity are more likely to be engaged in unsafe sex. Early sexual debut puts them at increased risk for acquiring or transmitting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV; and makes them highly vulnerable to unwanted pregnancy and its consequences. This study was conducted to assess premarital sexual practices and its predictors among in-school youths in North West Ethiopia.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried among 826 in school youths from December; 2011 to January; 2012 in Shendi town. A multistage sampling technique was used to select the study participants. Binary and multiple logistic regression analyses were performed to examine the relationship between premarital sexual practices and selected exposure variables.
Results: Nearly one fifth 157 (19%) of the participants reported having had premarital sexual intercourse, of which 91 (22.7%) were males and 66 (15.5%) were females. The mean (SD) age at first sexual intercourse was 16 .48 (1.59) for males and 15.89 (1.68) for females. More than three - fourth of sexually active in-school youths engaged in premarital sexual relationship before celebrating their 18th birthday. Being greater than 20 years (AOR = 3.67; 95% CI = 1.98, 6.82), living with friends or relatives (AOR = 2.47; 95% CI = 1.46, 4.16), living alone (without parental control (AOR = 2.51; 95% CI = 1.38, 4.55) and watching pornographic movies (AOR = 1.73; 95% CI = 1.18, 2.53) were found to be significantly associated with premarital sexual practices.
Conclusion: A significant number of in-school youths had started premarital sexual activity that might predispose them to different sexual and reproductive health risks. Therefore, various efforts need to be initiated through school-based information, education, and behavioral change communication, interventions, such as life skills education and negotiation.