The Transition of Adolescent Males to First Intercourse: Anticipated or Delayed?


Adolescent sexuality, Adolescents, Mothers, Premarital sex, Parents, Contraception, Gender roles, Anticipation


CONTEXT: Recognition of the different social, psychological and behavioral contexts within which adolescents initiate sexual activity broadens the understanding of teenage sexual behavior beyond the typical dichotomy of sexual experience vs. inexperience. METHODS: Data from the National Survey of Adolescent Males (1988 and 1990-1991) were used in logistic regression analyses to examine the influence of background factors on the transition to first intercourse among 265 teenagers who were not expecting to initiate sex in the next year (delayers) and 187 teenagers expecting to do so (anticipators). RESULTS: The most common reason for sexual inexperience among delayers was a desire to wait until marriage (32%); among anticipators, it was a lack of opportunity to initiate intercourse (35%). Anticipators were significantly more likely than delayers to have first intercourse within one year of the survey (53% vs. 13%). They also were more likely to report risky behaviors, precoital activities and approval of premarital sex; risky behavior predicted their onset of first sex (odds ratio, 1.5). Delayers were more likely to attend church and have strict parents and a college-educated mother. Having a mother with at least some college education increased the odds of transition to first intercourse for anticipators (5.2) but decreased the odds for delayers (0.2). Having a mother who gave birth as a teenager significantly increased the odds for anticipators (14.5). CONCLUSIONS: Anticipators' sexual behavior occurs in a high-risk context, whereas delayers may have internalized the decision to delay first intercourse and have background factors that encourage the delay.

Original Publication Citation

Forste, Renata and David W. Haas. 2002. “The Transition of Adolescent Males to First Intercourse: Anticipated or Delayed?” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health,34(4):184-190

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Reproductive Health




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor