Gender and social differences in adolescent sexuality and reproduction in Nicaragua

Type Journal Article - Journal of Adolescent Health
Title Gender and social differences in adolescent sexuality and reproduction in Nicaragua
Volume 21
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 1997
Page numbers 39-46

The aim of this research was to study gender and social differences in adolescent sexuality and reproduction, as reflected in age at first intercourse and age at first pregnancy, as a basis for future interventions in the municipality of León, Nicaragua.


In a community-based cross-sectional study including 7789 households, all women aged 15–49 years (n = 10,867) were interviewed about socioeconomic, sexual, and reproductive issues. A random subsample of men (n = 388) and women (n = 413) aged 15–49 years was interviewed in more detail about sexual patterns and reproduction.


The median age at first intercourse for women and men was 17.8 and 16.2 years, respectively. Women's average latency period to end of first pregnancy was 22 months. There was a significant tendency to start active sexual life later among today's girls aged 15–20 years, compared to the groups 21–27, 28–35, and 36–49 years old. A similar trend was found in age at first pregnancy. These secular trends were not found among men. Age at first pregnancy for current adolescents was lower among those having less formal education.


The short latency period between first sexual intercourse and end of first pregnancy, probably reflecting lack of access to counseling and contraception, is worrying in light of the growing sexually transmitted disease/human immunodeficiency virus threat. The secular trend of later start of reproduction, however, is a positive sign which partly may be an effect of increasing education in the Nicaraguan society.

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