Adolescent boys' experiences of first sex

Mary A. Ott, Nadia Ghani, Fatima McKenzie, Joshua G. Rosenberger, David L. Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


There are limited contextual data regarding first sexual experiences of younger adolescent men. Yet these data that are needed to inform sexually-transmitted-infection and early-fatherhood-prevention efforts, particularly in lower-income communities. Using qualitative methods, 14 adolescent men (ages 14-16, all low-income, most African American) from a mid-sized US city were asked about relationships and sexual experiences in a one-hour face-to-face semi-structured interview, with two follow-up interviews at six- to nine-month intervals. Story-telling was encouraged. Descriptions of first sex were identified and then analysed for narrative structure and shared concepts. The dominant narrative of first sex proceeded through three steps: (1) preparation, which involved identification of a sexualised space, mentoring and pre-planning, (2) the event, which involved looking for cues indicating sexual interest and consent from a female partner, feelings of fear/nervousness and first sex itself and (3) afterwards, which involved a return to prior activities, minimal verbal exchange and a general positive feeling, sometimes accompanied by later disappointment. Mentorship, initiation by the female and idealising sex as a romantic experience, played important roles in constructing the context of first sex. These factors should be incorporated in harm-reduction interventions for young men in similar contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)781-793
Number of pages13
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 1 2012


  • adolescent
  • African American
  • first sexual intercourse
  • USA
  • young men

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine(all)

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    Ott, M. A., Ghani, N., McKenzie, F., Rosenberger, J. G., & Bell, D. L. (2012). Adolescent boys' experiences of first sex. Culture, Health and Sexuality, 14(7), 781-793.