Age at First Sexual intercourse

Although age at first marriage is often used as a proxy for first exposure to intercourse, the two events do not necessarily occur at the same time. Women and men sometimes engage in sexual relations before marriage. In the 2013 GDHS, women and men were asked how old they were when they first had sexual intercourse. The percentage of women and men who had sexual intercourse by exact ages is shown in  the table 


Overall, 15 percent of women age 20-49 had sex before age 15 and 42 percent before age 18. The proportion of women who first had sexual intercourse by the ages of 15 and 18 is notably higher among older age groups, peaking at 24 percent and 54 percent, respectively, among women age 45-49. The median age at first sexual intercourse for women age 25-49 years is 18.6 years, which is the same as the median age at first marriage of 18.6 years. This suggests that women in The Gambia generally begin sexual intercourse at the time of their first marriage. Women’s sexual debut occurs much earlier than that of men (18.6 years for women versus 23.1 years for men).

Percentage of women and men age 15-49 who had first sexual intercourse by specific exact ages, percentage who never had
sexual intercourse, and median age at first sexual intercourse, according to current age.

Age at first intercourse (Women)

 Current age Women
Median age at first intercourse
15-19na
20-2419.8
25-2919.3
30-3418.9
35-3918.0
40-4417.6
45-4917.6
20-4918.9
25-4918.6
15-24a
Source: DHS 2013
{"name":"Median age at first intercourse","data":[0,19.8,19.3,18.9,18,17.6,17.6,18.9,18.6,0]}
{"name":"Median age at first intercourse","data":[{ name: '15-19', y: 0},{ name: '20-24', y: 19.8},{ name: '25-29', y: 19.3},{ name: '30-34', y: 18.9},{ name: '35-39', y: 18},{ name: '40-44', y: 17.6},{ name: '45-49', y: 17.6},{ name: '20-49', y: 18.9},{ name: '25-49', y: 18.6},{ name: '15-24', y: 0}]}
15-19|20-24|25-29|30-34|35-39|40-44|45-49|20-49|25-49|15-24

Age at first intercourse (Men)

 Current age Men
Median age at first intercourse
15-19a
20-24a
25-2922.4
30-3423.4
35-3922.7
40-4423.4
45-4925.5
20-49a
25-4923.1
15-24a
20-59a
25-5923.3
Source: DHS 2013
{"name":"Median age at first intercourse","data":[0,0,22.4,23.4,22.7,23.4,25.5,0,23.1,0,0,23.3]}
{"name":"Median age at first intercourse","data":[{ name: '15-19', y: 0},{ name: '20-24', y: 0},{ name: '25-29', y: 22.4},{ name: '30-34', y: 23.4},{ name: '35-39', y: 22.7},{ name: '40-44', y: 23.4},{ name: '45-49', y: 25.5},{ name: '20-49', y: 0},{ name: '25-49', y: 23.1},{ name: '15-24', y: 0},{ name: '20-59', y: 0},{ name: '25-59', y: 23.3}]}
15-19|20-24|25-29|30-34|35-39|40-44|45-49|20-49|25-49|15-24|20-59|25-59
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The Gambia Median age at first intercourse
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The Gambia Median age at first intercourse
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Age at first intercourse (Women)
  • Source: DHS 2013
Age at first intercourse (Men)
  • Source: DHS 2013
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