Fewer Icelandic Teens Drinking and Having Sex Skip to content

Fewer Icelandic Teens Drinking and Having Sex

By Yelena

teenagers nauthólsvík summer sun
Photo: Golli. Teenagers at Nauthólsvík beach, Reykjavík.

In 2006, 36% of Icelandic girls in the 10th grade stated that they had had intercourse, and 29% of boys of the same age. Those figures have now fallen to 24% among girls and 27% among boys, Fréttablaðið reports. Less than one in five 15-year-old boys in Iceland stated they used a condom the last time they had intercourse.

The data comes from an international survey called Health Behaviour in School-aged Children, which has been carried out in Iceland since 2006. The survey’s fundings indicate that one-fourth of 15-year-old boys and one-sixth of 15-year-old girls have had intercourse. Iceland’s results show that one-third fewer girls report having had sex than in 2006, and slightly fewer boys.

Decreased alcohol consumption likely a factor

“Sexual activity is a natural accompaniment of puberty that adolescents go through. The first steps can, however, be complicated and if they are taken before the individual is ready, the consequences can be negative,” explains University of Iceland Professor Ársæll Arnarsson, who is a director of Icelandic youth research. He conjectures that less alcohol consumption among teenagers could be one reason they are having less sex.

The COVID pandemic is certainly not the reason, Ársæll says, as “this development began before it appeared. Decreased alcohol consumption is likely a big factor. Drinking among Icelandic teenagers has decreased sharply in recent decades and the same can be said of other countries to which we compare ourselves, though the development there has not been as decisive as here in Iceland.”

Condom use far lower than international average

Condom use among youth varies significantly between countries, the survey results show. In Europe and North America, 61% of sexually active youth used a condom the last time they had intercourse. While the proportion in Malta was 52%, it was just 8% in Denmark. Just 18% of 15-year-old boys in Iceland stated that they used a condom the last time they had intercourse, which Ársæll calls disappointing. “This of course manifests in higher rates of sexually transmitted infections here in Iceland. The condom is, in addition to being a contraceptive, very good protection against that type of infection.”

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