Characteristics of Youth Who Report Early Sexual Experiences in Sweden

Anna Kågesten, Robert Wm Blum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Early timing of first sex is a common risk factor for adverse sexual and reproductive health (SRH) outcomes. This study explored characteristics and circumstances associated with early sexual experience (at or below age 14) among Swedish youth. Data were drawn from UngKAB09, a national study of youth SRH in Sweden. 24,000 youth 16–28 years were randomly selected for a web-based survey with a response rate of 24 %. Post-stratification weights were used to correct for over- and underrepresentation in response. Adjusted logistic regression was used to model associations with early sexual experience, by gender. In the final sample (N = 5,321, 49 % girls), 9 in 10 were sexually experienced, of whom 21 % reported early first sex. In multivariate analysis, early sex was significantly associated with 7 of the 9 predictor variables selected for the model among boys and 14 of 15 selected factors among girls. Early sex was positively associated with low educational attainment, early pubertal onset, bisexual identity and (girls only) rural residence. For girls, first generation immigrant status, greater religiosity, conservative sexual attitudes and low Chlamydia knowledge decreased the odds of early sex. Early experience was more common if youth had older partners and, among girls, felt that sex was expected. Being in love, feelings of intimacy, alcohol use at first sex, and (girls only) causal sexual partner and wantedness of first sex were inversely associated with early first sex. The findings and implications are discussed in relation to the European and global literature on early sexual experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)679-694
Number of pages16
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2015


  • Adolescents
  • Coitus
  • Early sexual debut
  • Gender
  • Sexual experience
  • Sweden

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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