Population Research and Policy Review 19: 113–141, 2000.
© 2000 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Contraceptive use at ﬁrst intercourse among Jewish women
in Israel, 1962–1988
ESTHER I. WILDER
University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, USA
Abstract. Using data from the 1987–1988 Study of Fertility and Family Formation, this study
examines the family planning practices of Jewish Israeli women who ﬁrst had intercourse
between 1962 and 1988. The overwhelming majority of women reported using no contra-
ception at ﬁrst intercourse, and among those who did practice birth control approximately
half relied on modern techniques. While the likelihood that Israeli women used contraception
at ﬁrst sex changed little between 1962 and 1988, there has been a marked shift towards
the adoption of efﬁcient methods of birth control. Moreover, factors which promote female
empowerment, including education and military service, have been positively associated with
contraceptive use at ﬁrst intercourse. Among those women who practiced contraception at ﬁrst
intercourse, those from Africa and Asia have been especially likely to make use of inefﬁcient
methods such as withdrawal.
Keywords: Contraception, Birth control, Ethnicity, Sexual intercourse
Information on contraceptive use is important in the formulation of family
planning programs designed to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually
transmitted diseases. An examination of contraceptive use at ﬁrst intercourse
is of special interest because early sexual experience may be associated with a
high vulnerability to these risks. Family planning behavior at ﬁrst intercourse
indicates the extent to which the young adult population is knowledgeable
about pregnancy prevention. To the extent that women (particularly those who
are unmarried) neglect contraception at ﬁrst intercourse, expanded efforts to
promote sexual education and family planning are warranted.
Women who do not practice contraception at ﬁrst intercourse are at risk
not only for pregnancy, but also for a variety of sexually transmitted diseases.
While Israel has been characterized as a ‘pre-epidemic’ area of HIV infection
(Dan 1993), the number of reported HIV carriers in the Middle East has been
growing very rapidly, reaching 192,000 in 1996 according to a regional con-
ference on AIDS prevention held in Jerusalem (Xinhua 1996). Moreover, the
incidence of herpes genitalis is gradually rising in Israel (Leventon-Kriss et