A study conducted by the Women’s Sports Foundation found that girls who participated in sports programs were less likely to have sex, had fewer sexual partners, and were more likely to use contraception when they did have sex than girls who did not participate in sports.
The Women’s Sports Foundation drew its findings from data compiled by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which surveyed 11,000 high school students, and a New York State Research Institute analysis of 699 families.
The study reported that female athletes were half as likely to get pregnant, more likely to be virgins, less likely to have multiple sex partners, and less likely to have sex often. “We contend that sports are a cultural resource that builds girls’ confidence, sense of physical empowerment, and social recognition within the school and community,” the report said. “Girls may be using the self-reliance and social status gained through athletic participation to resist social pressures to exchange sex for approval or popularity,” the study concluded.
Participation in sports programs had the opposite effect on athletic boys, who were more likely than non-athletic boys to engage in early sexual behavior.