Girls Experiencing Sexual Intercourse Early: Could It Play a Part in Reproductive Health in Middle Adulthood?

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Girls Experiencing Sexual Intercourse Early: Could it Play a Part in Reproductive Health in Middle Adulthood?

December 2, 2010
M/W/F, 8am
Psychology 103
Dr. Harris

Introduction
The article, “Girls experiencing sexual intercourse early: Could it play a part in reproductive health in middle adulthood?” is a study that examined a possible relationship between experience of early intercourse and reproductive health characteristics for women in middle adulthood. The study consisted of interviewing 522 females up to the age of 14 regarding the timing of their first sexual intercourse experience. Of the initial 522 interviewees that provided information, 369 were interviewed again 29 years later at age of 43. The questions consisted of a series of psychological and medical questions. The goal of the study was to examine whether being an early starter could have long-term implications for women’s reproductive health characteristics. The article discussed various factors, including socioeconomic status, demographic backgrounds, household income, education levels of the female and her parents, and any correlations with problematic behavioral problems. The article also provided methodology, data and results, a discussion section, and future outlook on the topic. At the time of the article’s publication in December, 2006, there was minimal research on this topic. However, a few additional studies and research have been published on this topic since this publication. Based on the findings presented in the combined research, I support the general position that there is a correlation between girls who experience sexual intercourse early and their reproductive health in middle adulthood.

Rationale
There have been many studies on early sexual activity, however there was no attempt to correlate it to reproductive health in middle adulthood. Instead, prior research focused on various problem behaviors such as delinquency, violation, alcohol and drug use. Only one study focused on the consequences of the co-occurrence and separateness of early sexual intercourse and problem behaviors over time. The result showed that early onset of sexual intercourse, and early onset of intercourse and problem behavior in adolescence, produced long-term consequences relating to alcohol use and criminal activity in young adulthood. The majority of prior research on long-term consequences of early intercourse focused on early pregnancy. And while numerous studies have focused on the link between early pregnancy and early sexual activity, less is known about the link between early sexual activity and long-term reproductive health issues. There are, however, a few studies that indicate that early onset of intercourse could be a risk factor for poor reproductive health in adolescence. Studies have shown that girls with early onset of sexual intercourse are more exposed to sex-related reproductive ill-health, unintended pregnancies, STDs, and cervical atypias than girls with later onset [1]. While these are attempts at trying to understand physical and psychological well-being during adolescence, there was little empirical and theoretical research done on the long-term consequences of being an early starter.

Method
The participants in the study were part of an Individual Development and Adaption (IDA) project. IDA is a longitudinal program for three complete school-grade Swedish children aged 10, 13, and 15 from a population of 100,000. The girls from the main group, age 10, have been followed into adulthood and by the age of 14, 522 girls were studied. And when the women turned 43, 379 of those participated in an intensive psychological-medical investigation. Additional testing measurement tools incorporated included an “Adjustment Screening Test,” gaining demographic variables, and gathering information by asking them the question, “Have you ever been pregnant?” The...
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