Young women in the US are having their first sexual experience after -- not before -- they arrive on campus, according to a survey released on Thursday.
The "Ultimate College Girl Survey," conducted by HerCampus.com, an online community for college women, was conducted during the 2011-12 academic year and involved nearly 2,600 participants between the ages of 17 and 23.
Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed said that they didn't lose their virginity until they turned 18, while 43 percent of respondents were still virgins at the time of the survey. For those respondents who had already had sex, 12.3 percent lost their virginity at 17, while 9.5 percent said that their first time was at age 16. Participants hailed from 677 different US schools, with graduating classes 2012 through 2015 almost equally represented.
"The delay in first sex in the HerCampus.com survey seems high, which may be due to selectivity in who is interviewed," Laura Lindberg, a senior research associate at Guttmacher, told Self Magazine. "However, it's not surprising that girls attending college wait to have sex later than other girls, for many reasons," she says, citing race, income and parents' education as potential factors.
Even still, she adds that being a virgin likely has less of a stigma today than it has in recent years. "We hear over and over from readers that they are waiting for the right guy to have sex for the first time, rather than simply viewing it as an item to check off their high school or college bucket list," Kaplan says.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US, young girls are waiting longer to have their first sexual experience. The proportion of 15- to 19-year-old females who had been sexually active at least once declined from 51 percent in 1988 to 43 percent in 2006-2010.
For males, CDC data suggests the decline is even greater -- the proportion of 15- to 19-year-old males who had been sexually active at least once dropped from 60 percent in 1988 to 42 percent in 2006-2010.