Difficulties With sexual functioning in a sample of male and female late adolescent and young adult university students

O'Sullivan, Lucia F.; Majerovich, Joann
June 2008
Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality;2008, Vol. 17 Issue 3, p109
Academic Journal
Despite the considerable research attention given to sexual health outcomes such as sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies among youth, little is known about either the positive or problematic aspects of sexual functioning in late adolescence and early young adulthood. The current study sought to document the experience of difficulties with sexual functioning (e.g., interest, arousal, orgasm, pleasure, pain) in a sample of 43 male and 128 female participants (mean age 19.5 years; range 17 to 21). Questionnaire responses indicated high levels of positive desire, pleasure and satisfaction, but also lifetime experiences of a range of sexual difficulties or problems. A comparison of these responses with those from an older sample of 28 male and 65 female students aged 22 to 28 years, recruited for this purpose, showed very few differences suggesting that the foundations for sexual functioning may be established early in the sexual lives of young people. In-depth interview findings from a sub-sample of 30 of the 171 younger students indicated that the sexual difficulties they experienced appeared to significantly disrupt sexual and relationship functioning. The implications of the findings for promoting healthy sexual functioning among young people are discussed.


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