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Study on first sexual experience is ‘just the tip of the iceberg’

Sexual health expert available to speak with media

CHICAGO - The first sexual experience for 1 in 16 U.S. women was forced or coerced intercourse in their early teens, according to a study recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine

Northwestern Medicine sexual health expert Dr. Lauren Streicher, who was not involved with the study, says the study’s findings are “just the tip of the iceberg,” and points out that the study is based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data involving women between the ages of 18 and 44 years old. 

Streicher is a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the medical director of the Northwestern Medicine Center for Sexual Medicine and Menopause. She is available to talk to reporters about the study’s findings, sexual health and forced or coerced intercourse, and how parents can talk to their teens about sexual assault. She can be reached by e-mail at

Quotes from Dr. Streicher:

“Many women are much younger than 18 at the time of a first sexual experience, and while some involved direct force, others were coerced verbally or emotionally.

“The long-term consequences are staggering -- not only psychologically, but there are also increased rates of long-term medical and gynecologic problems in these women. We see many of these women in our Center for Sexual Medicine who have long-term repercussions such as sexual dysfunction and gynecologic problems such as endometriosis and unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

“It’s important to appreciate that when we talk about non-consensual sexual experiences, we are not just talking about violent rape, but also other abusive but non-violent forms of coercion.