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Factors associated with sexual debut during adolescence in the Republic of Korea
  1. Dong-Yun Lee1,
  2. Jeong Min Moon2,
  3. Im Soon Lee3,
  4. Chang Suk Suh2,
  5. DooSeok Choi1
  1. 1Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  2. 2Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seongnam, Republic of Korea
  3. 3College of Medicine, Soonchunhyang University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  1. Correspondence to Professor DooSeok Choi, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, 50 Ilwon-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul 135-710, Republic of Korea; dooseok.choi{at}


Objective To investigate the factors associated with sexual debut among Korean adolescents.

Methods Based on a 2008 cross-sectional nationwide online survey conducted in 75 238 Korean middle and high school students aged 12–18 years (39 278 boys and 35 960 girls), demographic profiles of the reproductive health and factors associated with sexual debut were analysed.

Results The proportion of adolescents who had heterosexual intercourse was 5.1%. The cumulative proportion of sexual debut at age 18 was 20%, and the median age was 17 years. Overall, 0.2% of girls reported past pregnancies, while 8.8% of sexually active girls had ever been pregnant. A proportion of girls who underwent an induced abortion was 89.5%. Up to half (46.0% for boys and 48.3% for girls) never resorted to contraception during coitus. After adjusting for covariates, attendance at general and technical high school, low school record, drinking alcohol, smoking, drug use, high economic status and not living with both parents were associated with the increased proportion of sexual debut in both genders. By contrast, internet use was associated with a reduced risk of adolescent sexual debut.

Conclusion This study demonstrates the factors associated with sexual debut among Korean adolescents. This information may be helpful for the prevention of unprotected sexual debut and subsequent teenage pregnancy in adolescents who are susceptible to initiating sexual intercourse.

  • Adolescents
  • Korea
  • prevalence
  • risk factor
  • sexual debut

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was based on data from a national survey which was approved, under surveillance, by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (K-CDC) and Ministry of Health and Welfare of Korea, and this study only used publicly released data from which all personal identifiers were removed by the K-CDC. In these contexts, approval was officially exempted by the Ethics Committee at our institution (file number: 2011-12062).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.