Changes in psychological distress after first vaginal intercourse in late adolescence

Sara A. Vasilenko, Eva S. Lefkowitz, Jennifer L. Maggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Although early sexual intercourse may be associated with increased depressive symptoms, little research has examined whether first intercourse in late adolescence is associated with changes in mental health. Methods: This paper uses 3 years of longitudinal data from previously sexually abstinent late adolescent students at a large state university in the northeastern United States (N = 144, 53.5% male, M age = 18.5 years old, 47.2% White, 26.4% Asian/Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, 20.1% Hispanic/Latino, 18.1% Black/African American) to examine whether levels of psychological distress changed after first intercourse. Results: Students’ distress decreased after first intercourse, although this effect was only significant two or more semesters after first intercourse. There were no gender differences in these associations. Conclusions: Findings suggest first intercourse was, on average, associated with decreased psychological distress for both male and female late adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-216
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Adolescence
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • First intercourse
  • Mental health
  • Sexual behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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