Sexual and reproductive health of Portuguese adolescents

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Background: As adolescent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are major sources of morbidity, preventing them is an important health goal for Portuguese society. Objective: To review data on the knowledge, attitudes and statistics on sexual and reproductive health. Methods: A systematic review was conducted including peer-reviewed articles addressing issues influencing the sexuality of Portuguese adolescents (aged 13 to 19), published up to 2011 and conducted in any type of setting. After crossing-cleaning the reference list, 33 articles were included. Results: The rate of sexual activity by Portuguese adolescents is high (44%-95%), but there has been an increase in the age of intercourse debut (currently 15.6 years). Early commencement of sexual intercourse is associated with smoking and regular alcohol consumption. Condoms are the most frequently chosen contraceptive method for first (76%-96%) and subsequent (52%-69%) sexual encounters. The perception of a double standard in sex still exists in teenage culture for both genders and influence behavior. There are significant differences between migrant and native adolescents: African adolescents initiate sexual intercourse at earlier ages and are more likely to have unprotected sex. Only one-third of Portuguese teenagers have ever visited a health facility to seek counseling concerning contraception or STIs, and less than half have ever attended classes on reproductive health. Very few (12%) have knowledge about Chlamydia trachomatis infection. The prevalence of STIs in Portuguese youth is unknown. The adolescent fertility rate is still high (14.7 births per 1000 females aged 15-19 years), but it, as well as the rate of abortion, is steadily decreasing. Conclusions: There is still a long way to go towards promoting a resourceful young population. Citizens and institutions must focus on increasing both the competence of youths and external supports. Information must be provided systematically and health services must have greater accessibility. Studies addressing cultural and environmental determinants that contribute to the molding of the sexual conduct of Portuguese adolescents must be held to produce new and effective culturally sensitive. © 2014, WDG. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-12
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Adolescents
  • Reproductive health
  • Sexual behavior
  • contraceptive agent
  • adolescent
  • adult
  • alcohol consumption
  • chlamydiasis
  • condom
  • contraception
  • counseling
  • female
  • fertility
  • health care facility
  • human
  • major clinical study
  • male
  • Portuguese (citizen)
  • prevalence
  • reproductive health
  • Review
  • sexual behavior
  • sexual health
  • sexual intercourse
  • unprotected sex
  • addiction
  • adolescent behavior
  • adolescent pregnancy
  • attitude to health
  • health service
  • high risk behavior
  • migrant
  • Portugal
  • pregnancy
  • review
  • sexually transmitted disease
  • utilization review
  • young adult
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Adult
  • Contraception
  • Emigrants and Immigrants
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Services
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence
  • Prevalence
  • Reproductive Health
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  • Substance-Related Disorders
  • Young Adult


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