Prevalence and Characteristics of Sexual Functioning among Sexually Experienced Middle to Late Adolescents




Little is known about problems in sexual functioning among young people, despite the high rates found in adult samples. It is unclear which problems are most prevalent or how common sexual distress is for young people experiencing problems.


This study aims to assess the prevalence, range, and correlates of sexual problems and distress among a sample of adolescents (16–21 years).


Participants (mean age 19.2) were recruited from community and area high schools. Male adolescents (n = 114) completed online the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) and Premature Ejaculation Diagnostic Tool (PEDT). Female adolescents (n = 144) completed the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI). Both completed the Female Sexual Distress Scale (FSDS) and the measures of background, relationship characteristics, and sexual histories.

Main Outcomes Measures

Clinical cutoff scores on the IIEF, PEDT, FSFI, and FSDS were used to determine whether there was a significant sexual problem.


Adolescents reported extensive sexual experience, most in relationship contexts. Half of the sample (51.1%) reported a sexual problem; 50.0% reported clinically significant levels of distress associated with it. Similar rates of problems and distress were found among male and female adolescents. For the most part, adolescent characteristics, backgrounds, and experience were not associated with adolescents' sexual problems.


Sexual problems are clearly prevalent among adolescents, and distressing to many who experience them, emphasizing a strong need to develop programs to address this issue. O'Sullivan LF, Brotto LA, Byers ES, Majerovich JA, and Wuest JA. Prevalence and characteristics of sexual functioning among sexually experienced middle to late adolescents. J Sex Med 2014;11:630–641.