However, our current understanding of the role of age gaps in romantic relationships is limited, and it is based mainly on studies of couples who are already sexually active.We address this limitation by investigating how the age difference between partners is related to whether a romantic relationship includes sexual intercourse.
The magnitude of this association is most dramatic among the youngest females—for example, the odds of intercourse among 13-year-old females with a partner six years older are more than six times the odds among 13-year-old females with a same-age partner (odds ratio, 6.4), while 17-year-old females with partners six years older have about twice the odds of intercourse when compared with those who have a same-age partner (2.1).
CONCLUSIONS: Young adolescent females with substantially older partners are much more likely than their peers to have sex with their partner, which exposes them to the risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2002, 34(6):304-305 Researchers and policymakers have focused concern and attention on adolescent females who have romantic relationships with older males.
The age difference between a female and her partner may influence relationship dynamics in ways that put the female at greater risk of both unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
The survey, however, did not specify whether sex had occurred with the older partner, and results did not differ between students with an older partner and those with a same-age partner.
Age gaps between partners also influence contraceptive use: An analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) showed that adolescents with a sexual partner who was older by more than two years had a reduced likelihood of using condoms.Females have a higher risk than males of contracting STDs during sexual intercourse with an infected partner, and the health risks associated with an unplanned pregnancy are borne by females.CONTEXT: The age difference between a female and her partner may influence relationship dynamics in ways that put the female at increased risk of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.Very little is known, however, about how romantic involvement progresses to intercourse, particularly among adolescent females with older male partners.METHODS: Data from 1,975 female participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health were analyzed using logistic regression to determine whether the age difference between an adolescent female and her romantic partner is a risk factor for sexual intercourse.RESULTS: Adolescent females involved with an older partner have higher odds of having intercourse with that partner than females with partners their own age, after adjustment for demographic covariates.