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Sexual Behaviours in Adolescence

Canadian adolescents are having sexual intercourse at a consistently younger age than their parents, especially young women [9].  In 2003, the average age at first-time sexual experience was 16.5 for both sexes [3]


Furthermore, some immigrants to Canada initiate sexual intercourse at a significantly later age than Canadian-born adolescents, particularly women from more fundamentalist cultures, with an average difference in mean age of onset of 3 years [9].  These trends also vary across the country, with 15% of adolescents aged 14 to 15 in Atlantic provinces and 18% of 14 to 15 year olds in Quebec reporting having sex compared with only 10% in Ontario and western provinces [1].  While culture and place of residence have an impact, the tendency towards early sexual activity is highly individualized.


There is an association between earlier age of onset of sexual activity and multiple sexual partners, particularly among males [3].  This implies that teenagers engaging in early sexual experiences are at increased risk of sexually transmitted infections and unhealthy sexual relationships.  There is also a tendency to longer-term monogamous relationships at older ages, which is far less common among teenagers having sex.


Why do you think teenagers are having sex at younger ages?  Some people propose that it is the portrayal of sex on TV and in magazines as a normal stage in adolescent development.  Let’s see what Betty thinks.



1. Garriguet, D. Early sexual intercourse. Statistics Canada, Catalogue 82-003. 2005: 16;9-18.

3. Rotermann, M. Sex, condoms and STDs among young people. Statistics Canada Catalogue 82-003. 2005: 16;39-45.

9. Maticka-Tyndale, E., Barrett, M., Mackey, A. Adolescent sexual and reproductive health in Canada: A review of national data sources and their limitations. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality. 2000: 9(1); 41-65.

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