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Logo of bmcphBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Public Health
BMC Public Health. 2012; 12: 375.
Published online 2012 May 24. doi:  10.1186/1471-2458-12-375
PMCID: PMC3403867

Pre-marital sexual debut and its associated factors among in-school adolescents in eastern Ethiopia



More adolescents in Ethiopia are in school today than ever, but few studies have assessed the sexual behaviour of these learners. Thus, this study tried to assess pre-marital sexual debut and factors associated with it among in-school adolescents in Eastern Ethiopia.


A cross-sectional school-based study was conducted using a facilitator guided selfadministered questionnaire. Respondents were students attending regular school classes in fourteen high schools. The proportion of adolescents involved in pre-marital sexual debut and the mean age at sexual debut was computed. Factors associated with pre-marital sexual debut were assessed using bivariate and multivariable logistic regression.


About one in four, 686 (24.8%) never married in-school adolescent respondents reported pre-marital sexual debut of these 28.8% were males and 14.7% were females (p < 0.001). Pre-marital sexual debut was more common among adolescents who had their parents in urban areas (Adjusted OR and [95% CI] =1.42 [1.17–1.73]), who received higher pocket money per month (Adjusted OR and [95% CI] = 1.56 [1.19–2.04]), who perceived low self-educational rank (Adjusted OR and [95% CI] =1.89 [1.07–3.34]) and who lived in rented houses (Adjusted OR and [95% CI] =1.32 [1.03–1.70]). The females and those who were less influenced by external pressure were more protected against pre-marital sexual debut (Adjusted OR and [95% CI] = 0.44 [0.35–0.56; 0.62 [0.52–0.74, respectively]) than their counterparts.


A significant proportion of in-school adolescents were engaged in sexual relationship. Thus, public health interventions should consider the broader determinants of premarital sexual debut, including the ecological factors in which the behavior occurs.

Keywords: Ins-school, Adolescents, Pre-marital, Sexual debut

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