Australian research has revealed that many girls regret losing their virginity at an early age.
A study carried out by researchers from the University of Western Australia (UWA) has found that teenage girls who lose their virginity when they are not ready, often at an earlier age, are more likely to feel disappointment and regret the experience.
The researchers from UWA's School of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, interviewed 68 teenage girls aged 14 to 19, with the aim of better understanding the factors that influence sexual behaviour, including the first sexual experience in teenage girls.
The girls Dr.awn from sexual and reproductive health clinics throughout the Perth metropolitan area, including antenatal and postnatal services, abortion services and sexual health clinics spoke at length about their attitudes and experiences.
The median age of the girls was 17, while the age of their first experience of intercourse ranged from 11 to 17 years, with a median age of 14.
The study, "Perceptions and experiences of first sexual intercourse in Australian adolescent females" was led by Dr. Rachel Skinner, a paediatrician and specialist in adolescent health who is now based at the University of Sydney, who says the survey revealed that the degree of personal control over the situation that led to intercourse determined how teenagers felt about this experience.
Dr. Skinner says those who were 'ready' were more likely to have delayed intercourse until they were comfortable with both when and with whom this occurred but they also found that idealistic perceptions about sex and relationships, peer pressure, coercion from sexual partners and being Dr.unk were common reasons for premature and unwanted first experience of sexual intercourse.
Dr. Skinner says the research is unusual and significant because they were able to give very young and older teenagers a confidential space in which to voice their views and experiences about a topic which is generally considered taboo in this age group.
All the girls spoke at length about their attitudes and experiences in relation to first intercourse, romantic relationships, sexual behaviour, contraception and pregnancy and Dr. Skinnes says it was clear that more vulnerable were influenced by peers, social expectations, needing to fit in, alcohol and keeping their romantic relationships.
Dr. Skinner says if they have sex at a young age, before they are ready, it is reflected on as an unpleasant experience which they regret and this in itself is an undesirable outcome.
She says from a public health perspective, there has been concern for some time as to why teenagers are having sex at young ages, certainly younger than previous generations - early sexual activity is associated with a higher risk of unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
Dr. Skinner says the data goes some way to explaining the processes of early sexual activity in teenage girls.
Dr. Skinner presented her research at the Paediatrics and Child Health Division of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians conference in Sydney.