about us
peer education
pregnancy services
health promotion
sexual health

Young to hear of 'regrets' about early sex
Irish Times 15/05/2006

By Aine Kerr

Up to 85% of young females who became sexually active at an early age said they regretted the decision later on in life, a conference on sexual health for young people will be told this week.

In an effort to address statistics which show that 85% of females and 67% of males regret becoming sexually active at the age of 13 or 14, a new youth-friendly sexual health service has been proposed by Joe Adams, former director of the UK's National Centre for HIV and Sexual Health.

Speaking in advance of a conference on sexual health organised by the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) in Dublin on Wed, Mr Adams said that the traditional sex education services or the teaching of abstinence were not the most effective approaches available. Instead a new "Let's leave it til later" programme, otherwise known as the Delay programme which is currently being implememnted in England is advocated by Ms Adams.

"The statistics regarding the huge number who regret if they have sex very early in life relate to the US, UK and Europe and it is therefore probably fair to say that they are applicable to Ireland.  Many young people are finding that sex is not healthy or enjoyable at a young age." said Ms Adams.

The holistic "empowered-based" approach is not pitched as an abstinence programme and instead aims to help young people work out for themselves if and when they are emotionally ready to have sex. The Delay programme consists of 10 practical strategies such as supporting the acquisition of strong friendship skills enabling young people to withstand pressure and helping them to find non-sexual ways of exploring intimacy.

Director of the Sexual Health Centre in Cork Deirdre Seery said that the number of young people who become sexually active at a young age is often exaggerated, adding that just over a third become sexually active before the age of 17. Her concerns resided on the degree of information absorbed by many young people.  This is subsequently leaving them with a basic understanding of sex, fertility, pregnancy and STI's.