Sexual behaviour and contraceptive use among youth in the Balkans

Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa)



To assess sexual and health seeking behaviour related to contraception among high school students in Bosnia (Sarajevo), the FYR of Macedonia (Skopje), and Serbia and Montenegro (Belgrade and Podgorica).


A standardized questionnaire was self-administered by 2150 urban high school students. Multiple logistic regression analyses accounting for within-class correlation were applied to identify determinants of sexual behaviour, and the use of contraception and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) care.

Results In this group of youth with a mean age of 16.7 years, 41.3% of the boys and 20.8% of the girls had already experienced sexual intercourse. Mean age at sexual debut differed between sexually active boys (15.5) and girls (16.3). A condom was used at first sex by 73.7% of the boys and by 69.0% of the girls. Condoms were consistently used during sexual intercourse with the current or last partner by 64.3% of the boys and 48.5% of the girls. Oral contraception was resorted to by 0.0% (Macedonia) to 10.6% (Bosnia) of sexually active girls. One third of sexually active girls and 18.0% of sexually active boys had ever refrained from seeking medical advice on SRH despite feeling the need for it, mainly because of feelings of shame, fear and insecurity. TV or radio and friends were mostly mentioned as useful sources of information on contraceptives.

Conclusions Age at sexual debut and the proportion of sexually active youth in these Balkan states do not differ from those in other parts of Europe. However, declining condom use after sexual initiation is not compensated by having recourse to other contraceptive methods, as seen in some West-European countries. The role of mass media in dissemination of information and tackling barriers to SRH care should be explored.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

The European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care