Collections > UNC Scholarly Publications > BioMed Central > Age differences at sexual debut and subsequent reproductive health: Is there a link?

Abstract: Background: Experiences at sexual debut may be linked to reproductive health later in life. Additionally, young women with older sexual partners may be at greater risk for HIV and sexually transmitted infections. This study examines sexual debut with an older partner and subsequent reproductive health outcomes among 599 sexually experienced women aged 15–24 who utilized voluntary counseling and testing or reproductive health services in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Methods: Logistic regression models, controlling for socioeconomic and demographic factors, examined whether age differences at first sex were significantly associated with STI diagnosis in the previous 12 months and family planning method use at last intercourse. Results: Sixty-five percent of women reported sexual initiation with a partner younger or less than 5 years older, 28% with a partner 5 to 10 years older, and 7% with a partner 10 or more years older. There was a trend towards decreased likelihood of recent use of family planning methods in women who had first sexual intercourse with a partner 5 to 9 years older compared to women with partners who were younger or less than 5 years older. Age differences were not linked to recent STI diagnosis. Conclusion: Programs focusing on delaying sexual debut should consider age and gender-based power differentials between younger women and older men. Future research should examine whether wide age differences at sexual debut are predictive of continued involvement in crossgenerational relationships and risky sexual behaviors and explore the mechanisms by which crossgenerational first sex and subsequent reproductive health may be connected.