First Heterosexual Sex: Findings from the 2014/15 New Zealand Health Survey

Published online: 
15 November 2019
First Heterosexual Sex.

This report describes New Zealanders’ first experience of heterosexual sex, including whether it was consensual and protected from unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Over 10,000 respondents aged 16–74 years completed the sexual and reproductive health module in the 2014/15 Health Survey.

Use our Sexual and Reproductive Health Data Explorer to see the results from the 2014/15 Health Survey.

If you have any queries please email [email protected].

Overview of key findings

  • Half of New Zealand adults had had sex by the time they were 17 years old. The median age for first sex was lower for men and women aged under 55 at the time of the survey (17 years for both) than it was for the men (18 years) and women (19 years) aged 65–74 at the time of the survey.
  • 20 percent of adults had had sex before they were 16 years old. Among those aged 65–74 years, 12 percent of men and six percent of women had first had sex before aged 16; this increased to around one in four men and women now aged 16–24 years.
  • Sex before the age of 16 was most common among Māori men and women and least common among Asian men and women. It was more common among those living in the most deprived areas than those in the least deprived areas.
  • The majority (78 percent) of respondents used contraception when they first had sex. Condom use and the use of contraception more generally (including condoms) during first sex was more common in people who were younger at the time of the survey than those who were older. Māori and Pacific people were less likely to use contraception at first sex than non-Māori and non-Pacific people.
  • Most respondents (87 percent) said that they and their partners were ‘both equally willing’ to have sex on the first occasion. Sixteen percent of women and four percent of men said their partner was more willing than they were.
  • Around one in 40 women said they were forced the first time they had sex. Māori women were twice as likely to experience this than non-Māori.
  • Overall, 16 percent of men and 40 percent of women felt they should have waited longer to have sex for the first time. This sentiment was more common in younger people; it was reported by about one-quarter of men and one-half of women aged 16–24 years.
  • Compared with other ethnicities, both Māori and Pacific people were 1.6 times as likely to think they should have waited longer to have sex for the first time. Similarly, those living in more deprived areas were 1.5 times more likely to think they should have waited longer than those living in less deprived areas.

Go to Sexual and reproductive health to find out what’s being done in this area.

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Publishing information

  • Date of publication:
    15 November 2019
  • ISBN:
  • HP number:
  • Citation:
    Ministry of Health. 2019. First Heterosexual Sex: Findings from the 2014/15 New Zealand Health Survey. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
  • Ordering information:
    Only soft copy available to download
  • Copyright status:

    Owned by the Ministry of Health and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.

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