When Do Latino Women Start Their Sex Life?

Cultural and non-cultural factors

Chicas latinas son realmente calientes. In the Latino music, that's only sensuality and passion. How does this translate in the sex life of these women?

A new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health and carried on at the University of Chicago Medical Center shows that the sense of personal control over sex life strongly determines when Latino women start their sex life. Personal beliefs on timing the first sexual intercourse are by far more important than factors like friends and partners. Family's expectations also play an important role.

"Both personal control and family expectations had a very important role in delaying early initiation of sex. If the daughter perceived that her family felt her education was important, then it led her to delay sex," said co-author Dr. Melissa Gilliam, section chief of Family Planning at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

The research, based on survey questions, was made on a pool of 270 Latinas, aged 17 to 25. The age of sexual debut varied from 12 to 24 with an average of 16.15 years.

There was also a strong link between the age of the young woman's mother at first pregnancy and the age of the young woman's first sexual partner. Latino females having older partners were more likely to start sex life earlier. The team included in the survey questions any new factors appearing during the investigation.

"If focus group participants had said that music played a big role in their behaviors or drug use or gangs, then those topics would be in the model," Gilliam said.

Previous researches comparing African-American and white adolescents encountered the highest teen pregnancy rate amongst Latino population, even if sexual activity was lower. Researches also found that Latino women use in a lower degree contraception during their first sexual intercourse.

"There are these health disparities that very much track along racial, ethnic lines. Many times researchers presuppose the questions that should be asked and design questionnaires based on those suppositions. They're often not rooted in the belief systems of a population. If we're serious about doing research in understudied populations, especially with adolescents, we want to start moving away from cultural comparisons. We want to start thinking about questions that are culturally appropriate for the group being studied," said Gilliam.

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