The making of the modern girl: part 2
The average age at which girls have their first sexual experience is 14, while the average age at which girls have sexual intercourse for the first time is 17. One in 5 report having intercourse before their 16th birthday. The age of first intercourse has declined over the past four decades from 21, but the biggest drop occurred in the 1950s, before the introduction of the Pill.

Among 16- to 24-year-olds, 36 per cent of women feel they had first intercourse too soon. 17 per cent cite peer pressure as the main factor precipitating first intercourse. In a 1994 Mizz magazine/ Brook survey, 31 per cent of female respondents said they had had been pressurised into sex before they were ready; 82 per cent of those said the pressure came from boyfriends.

In a 1992 survey of 16- to 19-year-old women, asking them how many sexual partners they had had, 39 per cent said none, 26 per cent said one, 12 per cent said two, 13 per cent said between three and four, 7 per cent said between five and nine, and 3 per cent said more than 10.

In 1993 59.6 girls in every 1,000 aged 15 to 19 became pregnant; 36 per cent of these pregnancies ended in abortion. 8.1 in every 1,000 aged between 13 and 15 became pregnant; 51 per cent of these ended in abortion. The drop in the teenage pregnancy rate in 1991 marked the first decline since the early 1980s and coincided with a 4 per cent rise in clinic provision and a rise in attendance by teenagers. The continuing increase in services in 1992 and 1993 has been accompanied by a further fall in the pregnancy rate of 8 per cent among 15- to 19-year-olds, and 13 per cent among the under-16s.

In a 1992 survey of 16- to 19-year-old women, asking what contraceptive they used the last time they had intercourse, 52 per cent said the Pill, 44 per cent a condom, and 8 per cent nothing at all. (The figures do not add up to 100 as more than one method may have been used.)

The average age at which women get married has risen from 26 in 1972, to 27 in 1983, to 29 in 1993.

The average age at which women have their first child has risen from 24 in 1983 to 26 in 1993. The number of women having their first child under the age of 20 dropped from over 30,000 in 1981 to below 15,000 in 1991.

Figures from Brook Advisory Service factsheet on teenage sexual activity; Kay Wellings' book `Sexual Behaviour in Britain' (Penguin); the OPCS.