Parents only talk about ‘the birds and the bees’ with their first borns.
Middle and last-born children are up to 49 per cent less likely to be told about sex by their parents than their older siblings, a study found today.
Parents appear to find the awkward sex chat increasingly uncomfortable the more times they are forced to have it, according to researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
But whether or not a parent discusses sex with their child does not influence when they lose their virginity, the study adds.
Parents only talk about ‘the birds and the bees’ with their first borns (stock)
The researchers analysed the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles.
This is the largest scientific study on sexual health in the UK with more than 45,000 participants to date. It has been carried out every decade since 1990.
A sample was taken of 5,000 people aged between 17 and 29 who were either first, middle or last borns.
The participants were asked what role their parents and siblings played in their sex education.
Results, published in the journal Sex Education, suggest parents are more likely to discuss intercourse with their first-born children.
Some 48 per cent of first-born women and 37 per cent of first-born men talked about sex with their parents when they were 14 years old.
This is compared to just 40 per cent and 29 per cent of middle-born women and men, respectively.
Last-born children also claim they were less likely to learn about sex from their parents than their older siblings.
DOES SEX SLOW AGEING?
Having sex at least once a week slows ageing in women – even if they do not enjoy being intimate, research suggested in July 2017.
Being active between the sheets increases the length of women’s telomeres, a study found.
These ‘cap’ the end of DNA strands, with longer lengths being associated with slower ageing, longer lifespans and improved overall health.
Women’s telomeres lengthen with regular love making regardless of whether they are sexually satisfied in their relationship, the research adds.
Researchers believe sex may aid ageing in women by dampening stress and boosting their immune systems.
The scientists, from the University of California, San Francisco, analysed physical intimacy, as well as partner support or conflict, overall relationship satisfaction and stress in 129 mothers in long-term relationships.
Blood samples were taken from the study’s participants to determine their telomere length.
The study was conducted over one week.
Lead author Tomás Cabeza de Baca said: ‘Over time, shortened telomeres may contribute to chronic degenerative diseases and premature mortality.
‘Sexual intimacy may dampen the effects of stress by down-regulating stress response systems and up-regulating immune response.
‘Over time, these patterns of stress function should result in longer telomere length,’ PsyPost reported.
This may be due to younger siblings finding such conversations more awkward than their older brothers or sisters, the study states.
Lead author Dr Lotte Elton said: ‘In addition to seeing differences in sex education according to birth order, we also found clear differences between the sexes; across all birth order categories, men consistently reported lower parental involvement in sex education than women.
‘Our findings suggest that the previously-reported difficulties men face in talking about sex with parents may be exacerbated if they are middle- or last-born.’
Results further suggest middle and last-born children often turn to their older brothers and sister for sex advice.
This follows research that suggests having a sexually-active sibling is linked to a person having a more liberal attitude towards intimacy.
The sisters of teenagers who are pregnant or have children are also more likely to lose their virginity at a young age.
On the back of these findings, the researchers believe siblings could be useful in educating their younger brothers and sisters about sex.
Senior author Wendy Macdowall added: ‘Our findings support previous work demonstrating gender disparities in family involvement in sex education, highlighting the need for further work in this area – particularly around how birth order might affect the involvement of parents in children’s sex education.
‘The results are particularly significant given plans to make sex education compulsory in schools in England and Wales, since relying on parents to provide sex education for children may disadvantage later-borns.’
The researchers stress, however, their study did have drawbacks.
For instance, the middle-born children analysed generally came from different socio-economic backgrounds to the first and last borns.
In the UK, men and women generally lose their virginity at 16, compared to 17 in the US.
The legal age of consent in the UK is 16. In the US, it varies between 16 and 18 depending on the state.
This comes after research released earlier this year suggested teenagers are having less sex.
In 2015, just 41.2 per cent of US high school students had sexual intercourse, down from 46.8 per cent two years earlier, according to a report by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.