PSYC103.23084.EDTR103.23083.201221: PSYC103:WC3- May 16, 2012 EDTR103:WC3 Spring 2012 Psychology 103 Girls experiencing sexual intercourse early: Could it play a part inreproductive health in middle adulthood? Article summary Joan AnasthasiaOlympio Community College of Baltimore County Instructor: AzarEtesamypour-King
PSYC103.23084.EDTR103.23083.201221: PSYC103:WC3- May 16, 2012 EDTR103:WC3 Spring 2012Introduction: The article, “Girls experiencing sexual intercourse early: Could it play a part inreproductive health in middle adulthood?” is a study that explore a potential relationship betweenexperiencing early intercourse and reproductive health characteristics in middle adulthood forwomen. The study was composed of 522 females up to the age of 14 who were interviewed inregard of the timing of their first sexual intercourse experience. In all the informationgatheredfromthe initial 522 interviewees that, only 369 were interviewed again 29 years later at age of 43.Series of psychological and medical questions were the focused subject. The attempt of thestudy was to examine if having an earlysex life could have long-term implications for women’sreproductive health characteristics. The article also introducedmiscellaneousfactors, includingdemographic backgrounds, socioeconomic status, education levels of the female and her parents,household income, , and any correlations with problematic behavioral problems. The article alsodiscusses methodology, data and results, a discussion section, and future outlook on the topic. At the time of the article’s publication in December, 2006, theresearch was fundamentalonthe topic. But after the publication of the studysmall additional studies and research have beenpublished. The analysis presented in the coalesce research, I support the conventionalcomprehensivepoint of view that there is a relation between girls who experience sexualintercourse early and their reproductive health in middle adulthood.
PSYC103.23084.EDTR103.23083.201221: PSYC103:WC3- May 16, 2012 EDTR103:WC3 Spring 2012Rationale: Early sexual activities have been studied in young adults, but no attempts to associate itto reproductive health in middle adulthood have been made. Unfortunately other researchfocusing on different issues behaviors such as delinquency, violation, alcohol and drug use weremore of a concern. Only one study focused on the consequences of the co-occurrence andseparateness of early sexual intercourse and problem behaviors over time. The result showedthat early onset of sexual intercourse, and early onset of intercourse and problem behavior inadolescence, produced long-term consequences relating to alcohol use and criminal activity inyoung adulthood. The majority of prior research on long-term consequences of early intercoursefocused on early pregnancy. And while numerous studies have focused on the link betweenearly pregnancy and early sexual activity, less is known about the link between early sexualactivity and long-term reproductive health issues. At the same time some studies performedindicate that early beginning of intercourse could be a risk factor for poor reproductive health inadolescence. Studies have shown that girls who are involved in early sexual intercourse aremore exposed to sex-related reproductive ill-health, unintended pregnancies, STDs, and cervicalatypias than girls who wait for sexual intercourse.(1). Although those studies tried to figure outan understanding of physical and psychological during adolescence, very little empirical andtheoretical research are done on the everlastingaftermathsof an early sex active female.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 aged10, 13, and 15 from a population of 100,000. The 10 years old girl group have been followed
PSYC103.23084.EDTR103.23083.201221: PSYC103:WC3- May 16, 2012 EDTR103:WC3 Spring 2012into adulthood and by the age of 14, 522 girls were studied. At the age of 43, 379 womenparticipated in an intensive psychological-medical investigation for additional testingmeasurement tools including an “Adjustment Screening Test,” gaining demographic variables,and gathering information by asking them the question, “Have you ever been pregnant?” The“Adjustment Screening Test” was used to identify criteria for an early starter and any problembehavior. Personal interviews were performed to retrieved background information dataregarding socioeconomic status based on household income and education information based on13 years old girls. Other information gathered included their parents’ education, age of leavinghome, number of children, education, family income, and individual income. The question onpregnancy was asked in regard of personal health to determine fertility, menstrual symptoms,contraception, and health check-ups.Results: The first part of the study examined if there were any significant differences between earlyand late starters based on various demographic characteristics including reproductive health andhealth related behavior. It was found that generally early starters left home earlier thannormal/late starters. Typically early starters left home approximately one year prior to normal-late starters and had a lower level of education. Additionally, early starters’ parents also had alower education level in comparison with parents of later starters. There was no difference inhousehold income. Nearly every woman by the age of 43 had been pregnant at some time andnearly all were married or cohabiting. However, there were several differences between the twogroups of girls based on reproductive health markers. Fifty-one (73.9%) early starters terminatedtheir pregnancies by a miscarriage or abortion, in comparison with 104 (47.7%) later starters.
PSYC103.23084.EDTR103.23083.201221: PSYC103:WC3- May 16, 2012 EDTR103:WC3 Spring 2012Regarding fertility, 24 (32%) of the early starters had tried to get pregnant for more than a yearin comparison with 51 (21%) of later starters. Early starters consistently reported moremenstrual symptoms than later starters and fewer had used contraception than later starters. Nodifferences were found in routine health check-ups. Since household income during childhood did not differ between the groups, this was notstudied further. However, parents’ education at age 13 did differ and was examined further as anearly predictor to sexual intercourse. Girls who have a parent with a lower education wererepresented more frequently than those who have a higher educated parent. It was also foundthat being an early intercourse starter was a strong predictor of having menstrual symptoms atage 43. Being an early starter, independent of problem behaviors, did have a predictiveassociation with being a teenage mother, pregnancies less than six months, abortion as ateenager, and no use of contraception. It was however, not linked with medical fertilitytreatment. Problem behaviors and early intercourse, together, was not linked to somereproductive health characteristics. It was also determined that low parental educationconsistently did not predict reproductive health. Early intercourse, however, was a strongpredictor of early aged abortions than any of the other predictors.Discussion: Given there was minimal prior research done on this topic at the time, quite a bit ofexperimental evidence was added to the existing knowledge. The results help suggest that thosewho experience early intercourse early are likely different than their counterparts on variouscharacteristics. Early starters and their parents tend to be less formally educated and leave homeearlier than earlier counterpart who experience sexual intercourse later. The results also show
PSYC103.23084.EDTR103.23083.201221: PSYC103:WC3- May 16, 2012 EDTR103:WC3 Spring 2012that early intercourse plays a role in later reproductive health for women. Women with a historyof early sexual intercourse reported less contraception use as well as more menstrual symptomsat age 43 than their counterparts without such a history. Strong correlations were also found forearly intercourse being a strong predictor of reproductive health markers, both as a teenager andas an adult. The authors critiqued their work fairly in a variety of ways including offering explanationsand citing related research in an attempt to propose possibilities and likelihoods. For example,no explanations are made for why early starters use less contraception in midlife. The authorsthen site another source explaining how perhaps fertility management requires a certain amountof ability to act rationally and plan for the future, as well a certain level of cognitive andemotional maturity. The authors also address some methodological limitations including using avaried group sizes in the final analysis and also how studying linear relations between variableswill deny them gaining knowledge on possible interactions and patterns of reproductive health.Critical Thinking: The findings of the study correspond in many ways with what I have learned in HumanGrowth and Development class, particularly in the early adolescence stage. This is the age whenyoung females begin puberty and develop sex characteristics. And with the arrival of puberty,hormonal changes will lead to an increased sex drive. This is when libido levels are increasedand that 75% of females are sexually active prior to the age of 16 (in the U.S.) and that 50% ofabortions occur in females under the age of 18. As stated in the study, I also learned in class thata substantial percentage of young females under the age of 18 are sexually active quite early, bythe age of 15. Taking the Human Growth and Development class also identified how
PSYC103.23084.EDTR103.23083.201221: PSYC103:WC3- May 16, 2012 EDTR103:WC3 Spring 2012characteristics of sexually active adolescents are similar to what the study proposed. Forexample, I also learned that early and frequent teenage sexual activity is linked to personal,family, peer, and educational characteristics. These include early pubertal timing, parentaldivorce, single-parent and stepfamily homes, large family size, little or no religious involvement,weak parental monitoring, disrupted parent-child communication, sexually active friends andolder siblings, poor school performance, lower educational aspirations, and tendency to engagein norm-violating acts, including alcohol and drug use and delinquency . And as the studyproduced, we also learned how there is a correlation between early pregnancy and negativeeffects on educational attainment, martial patterns, and economic circumstances. This evidence could impact individual’s lives positively if there were more education andprevention strategies in place. Too often sex education classes and counseling sessions areprovided too late (after sexual activity has begun) and are limited in time and generally stick justto the basic facts, such as reproduction and anatomy. While sex education does not encouragesex, it does improve awareness. And if this evidence was presented in sex education classes atan early life stage, it may prevent the negative impacts of early starters. However, given the lifestage of the subjects, it may be difficult and challenging to get them interested as they generallydo not consider themselves to be at risk. To have an impact, the sex education and counselingsessions must be relevant and related to their lifestyles to gain their interest so they canunderstand the impact it may have on their long-term reproductive health. The study’s findingscould easily be an addendum to any contraceptive and birth control education. This study focused on 14 year old Swedish females and while the Sweden populationtakes a more liberal approach toward adolescent sexuality and associated behaviors (as long as it
PSYC103.23084.EDTR103.23083.201221: PSYC103:WC3- May 16, 2012 EDTR103:WC3 Spring 2012is monogamous), exposure to sex, education about it, and effort to limit the sexual curiosity ofchildren and adolescents vary widely around the world. The study did not evaluate factors suchas religion or race. However, as prior research has documented, earlier ages of initiation ofsexual activity among African American compared with European American girls . Based onthe evidence presented in this study, and other supporting research on sexual activity, I supportthat there is a clear correlation between girls who experience sexual intercourse early and theirreproductive health in middle adulthood.
PSYC103.23084.EDTR103.23083.201221: PSYC103:WC3- May 16, 2012 EDTR103:WC3 Spring 2012References 1. Magnusson, C., Trost, K. (2006). Girls experiencing sexual intercourse early: Could it playa part in reproductive health in middle adulthood? Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics andGynecology.Vol. 27, Iss.4, p. 237-44 (8pp.)