Sexual health is an important aspect of adolescent development, and the results from the most recent HBSC study are in line with other evidence in Canada that suggests sexual health is continuing to improve among adolescents in Grades 9 and 10 (Poon et al., 2015; McKay & Barrett, 2010). That youth are waiting longer before first having intercourse is a positive finding, as a recent systematic review has documented an extensive body of research showing that early age of sexual initiation has been linked to higher sexual health risks, including greater risk of coerced sex, more sexual partners, use of alcohol or drugs during intercourse and greater risk of teen pregnancy involvement (Heywood et al., 2014).
There is also further room for improvement in sexual health; nearly 1 in 5 sexually active adolescents did not use protection the last time they had sexual intercourse. It is important to encourage ongoing efforts in communities across Canada, to ensure both effective, accurate sexual health education in early adolescence, and ready access to contraception and barrier methods for the small proportion of adolescents who are sexually active.
Saewyc EM. (2016). Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) in Canada: Focus on Relationships – Chapter 14. Sexual Health. Public Health Agency of Canada