Trends in heterosexual inexperience among young adults in Japan: Analysis of national surveys, 1987-2015

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Background: It has been suggested that an increasing number of Japanese adults remain sexually inexperienced; however, no study has assessed this issue using nationally representative data. Methods: We used data from seven rounds of the National Fertility Survey of Japan, 1987-2015, and included adults aged 18-39 years (18-34 years in the 1987 survey) in the analyses (sample size 11,553-17,850 [1987-2010]; response rate 70.0-92.5%). For each survey year, sex and age group, we estimated the age-adjusted prevalence of heterosexual inexperience, defined as reporting no experience of sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex. We used logistic regression, adjusted for age, to identify factors associated with heterosexual inexperience in the 2010 survey. Information about same-sex sexual experience was not available. Results: Between 1992 and 2015, the age-standardized prevalence of heterosexual inexperience in adults aged 18-39 years increased from 21.7 to 24.6% for women (p-values for linear and quadratic trend < 0.05) and from 20.0 to 25.8% for men (p-values for trend < 0.05). Among those aged 30-34 years, the prevalence was 6.2% in 1987 and 11.9% in 2015 for women (p-values for trend ≥0.05) and 8.8% (1987) and 12.7% (2015) for men (p-values for trend ≥0.05). Among those aged 35-39 years, prevalence increased from 4.0% in 1992 to 8.9% in 2015 among women (p-values for trend < 0.05). The corresponding numbers for men in the same age group were 5.5 and 9.5%, respectively (p-values for trend ≥0.05). Among men aged 25-39 years, unemployment, temporary/part-time employment and lower income were associated with heterosexual inexperience. Conclusions: The proportion of young Japanese adults with no experience of heterosexual intercourse had increased in the past two decades. Among adults in their thirties, around one in ten had no heterosexual experience. Unemployment, temporary/part-time employment and low income were associated with heterosexual inexperience among men. Further research is needed on the factors contributing to and the potential public health and demographic implications of the high proportion of the Japanese population that remains sexually inexperienced well into adult age.




Ghaznavi, C., Sakamoto, H., Yoneoka, D., Nomura, S., Shibuya, K., & Ueda, P. (2019). Trends in heterosexual inexperience among young adults in Japan: Analysis of national surveys, 1987-2015. BMC Public Health, 19(1).

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