China is realizing increases in women engaged in premarital sex and multiple sex partner behavior. Our aim was to examine prevalence and determinants of multiple sex partner behavior among female undergraduates in China.
Anonymously completed questionnaires were received from 4,769 unmarried female undergraduates, recruited using randomized cluster sampling by type of university and students' major and grade. Items captured demographic, family, peer and work influence, and student factors (major, academic performance, and sex-related knowledge and attitudes). To examine risk factors for sexual behaviors, we used multi-level logistic regression, yielding odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI).
Of 4,769 female students, 863 (18.10%) reported ever having sexual intercourse, and 5.31% reported having multiple sex partners (29.32% of all women having sexual intercourse). Several demographic, family, peer and work influences, and student factors (including major, performance, knowledge, and attitude toward sex) were risk factors for ever having sex. However, risk factors for multiple sex partners only included working in a place of entertainment, having current close friends that were living with boyfriends, poor academic performance, and positive attitudes toward multiple partners. These women also were more likely to practice masturbation, start having sex at a younger age, have sex with married men and/or men not their "boyfriends" at first coitus, and not use condoms consistently.
A small but important subset of Chinese female undergraduates is engaged in unprotected sex with multiple sex partners. Interventions need to target at risk women, stressing the importance of consistent condom use.