The association between sequences of sexual initiation and the likelihood of teenage pregnancy.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Few studies have examined the health and developmental consequences, including unintended pregnancy, of different sexual behavior initiation sequences. Some work suggests that engaging in oral-genital sex first may slow the transition to coital activity and lead to more consistent contraception among adolescents.


Using logistic regression analysis, we investigated the association between sequences of sexual initiation (i.e., initiating oral-genital or vaginal sex first based on reported age of first experience) and the likelihood of subsequent teenage pregnancy among 6,069 female respondents who reported vaginal sex before age 20 years and participated in waves I and IV of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.


Among female respondents initiating vaginal sex first, 31.4% reported a teen pregnancy. Among female respondents initiating two behaviors at the same age, 20.5% reported a teen pregnancy. Among female respondents initiating oral-genital sex first, 7.9% reported a teen pregnancy. In multivariate models, initiating oral-genital sex first, with a delay of at least 1 year to vaginal sex, and initiating two behaviors within the same year were each associated with a lower likelihood of adolescent pregnancy relative to teens who initiated vaginal sex first (odds ratio = .23, 95% confidence interval: .15-.37; and odds ratio = .78, 95% confidence interval: .60-.92, respectively).


How adolescents begin their sexual lives may be differentially related to positive and negative health outcomes. To develop effective pregnancy prevention efforts for teens and ensure programs are relevant to youths' needs, it is important to consider multiple facets of sexual initiation and their implications for adolescent sexual health and fertility.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Reese, BM; Haydon, AA; Herring, AH; Halpern, CT

Published Date

  • February 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 52 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 228 - 233

PubMed ID

  • 23332489

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3551538

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1879-1972

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1054-139X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.06.005


  • eng