Woman who had their first sexual experience in early adolescence are more likely to go through a divorce later in life, especially if they had mixed feelings about the event when it occurred, according to a new study from the University of Iowa.
The study, published in the Journal of Family and Marriage, found that 31 percent of women who had engaged in sex as teens divorced within five years of marriage while 47 had divorced within 10 years. In contrast, only 27 percent of women who waited until adulthood to have sex divorced their spouse within a decade of marriage.
In particular, women who had sex before age 16 were likely to divorce, even if it was wanted. However, there was no direct link to divorce for those who waited until age 16 or 17 for their first wanted sexual experience.
“The results are consistent with the argument that there are down sides to adolescent sexuality, including the increased likelihood of divorce,” said Anthony Paik, the author of the study.
Paik added that women with attitudes that made them comfortable with teen sex may have been predisposed to divorce or an early sexual experience may have subsequently lead to behaviors or beliefs that promote divorce. Paik emphasized that these theories have not been confirmed.
About 3.4 marriages per 1,000 population are likely to lead to divorce in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.