Early Sexual Initiation and Mental Health: A Fleeting Association or Enduring Change?

Rose Wesche, Derek Allen Kreager, Eva S. Lefkowitz, Sonja E. Siennick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The present research examined how the within-person association between sexual initiation and internalizing symptoms decays over time, using data with annual measurement occasions across adolescence (N = 1,789) and statistical models of within-person change. Sexual initiation was associated with increased levels of internalizing symptoms for early-initiating girls (ninth grade, approximately age 15), but not for on-time-initiating girls or for boys. The association between girls' early sexual initiation and internalizing symptoms declined precipitously over time. Indeed, 1 year after sexual debut, early-initiating girls were similar to on-time or noninitiating girls on internalizing symptoms, suggesting early sexual initiation does not produce lasting detriments to girls' mental health. Findings inform how researchers perceive sexual initiation, both as a developmental milestone and as a prevention target.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)611-627
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
Volume27
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

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Reproductive Health
Mental Health
mental health
human being
Statistical Models
adolescence
school grade
Research Personnel
time
Research

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

Wesche, Rose ; Kreager, Derek Allen ; Lefkowitz, Eva S. ; Siennick, Sonja E. / Early Sexual Initiation and Mental Health : A Fleeting Association or Enduring Change?. In: Journal of Research on Adolescence. 2017 ; Vol. 27, No. 3. pp. 611-627.
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Early Sexual Initiation and Mental Health : A Fleeting Association or Enduring Change? / Wesche, Rose; Kreager, Derek Allen; Lefkowitz, Eva S.; Siennick, Sonja E.

In: Journal of Research on Adolescence, Vol. 27, No. 3, 01.09.2017, p. 611-627.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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