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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Changes in sexual behavior have resulted in longer periods of multiple serial or concurrent relationships. This study investigated the effects of multiple heterosexual partners on mental health, specifically, whether higher s of partners were linked to later anxiety, depression, and substance dependency.

Data from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, a prospective, longitudinal study of a birth cohort born in — in Dunedin, New Zealand were used. The relationship between s of sex partners over three age periods 18—20, 21—25, and 26—32 years and diagnoses of anxiety, depression, and substance dependence disorder at 21, 26, and 32 years were examined, using logistic regression. Interaction by gender was examined. Adjustment was made for prior mental health status. There was no ificant association between of sex partners and later anxiety and depression.

Increasing s of sex partners were associated with increasing risk of substance dependence disorder at all three ages. The association was stronger for women and remained after adjusting for prior disorder. For women reporting 2. Analyses using new cases of these disorders showed similar patterns. This study established a strong association between of sex partners and later substance Adult seeking sex Waller, especially for women, which persisted beyond prior substance use and mental health problems more generally.

The reasons for this association deserve investigation. Changes in heterosexual behavior in many countries since the s have been characterized by a Adult seeking sex Waller in the age at first intercourse and an increase in age at first parenthood. Data from the U. National Survey of Family Growth has shown an increase in s of sexual partners from todespite a recent stabilization in age at first intercourse Aral, Although sexual risk taking is a feature of young adulthood CDC,the psychological effects of this contemporary pattern of sexual behavior are uncertain.

Cross-sectional studies have shown a link between sexual risk taking e. Studies addressing the directionality of this association have mainly focussed on mental health problems resulting in sexual risk taking e. There is evidence from these studies that alcohol or substance use as well as antisocial behavior in childhood and adolescence predicts risky sexual behavior.

The few studies that have examined whether sexual risk taking in mental health problems found early sex and sexually transmitted infections STIs associated with later depression and substance problems e. Sexual risk taking generally refers to patterns of sexual behavior that put individuals and their sexual partner at greater risk of STIs.

However, less is known about the psychological consequences of multiple partners, be they short-term serial or concurrent relationships. The psychological impact of such relationships may be because the relational aspect of sex is missing, i.

Or it may be due to emotional consequences of the break ups of multiple short-term relationships. In this study, we examined whether multiple sexual partners, one aspect of sexual risk taking, predicted a later diagnosis of common mental disorders: anxiety, depression, and substance dependence disorders. We examined this in three age periods over young adulthood. Further, we have ly examined whether prior mental health problems were associated with subsequent risky sex and showed that childhood antisocial behavior and low anxiety were associated with later sexual risk taking Ramrakha et al.

Assessments have since been conducted at 2-year intervals until age 15 years, then again at age 18 —21 —26 —and 32 years — Ethical approval was obtained and confidentiality was assured for each component of the assessment. Participants from all over New Zealand and overseas were brought back to the unit for a full day of individual data collection at each assessment. Participants were asked questions about the of opposite sex partners with whom they had penetrative sex in the last 3 years at age 215 years at age 26and last 6 years at age At each assessment age, they were also asked about the s for the last 12 months.

of sexual partners per year was then categorized into three groups: 1.

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Each disorder was diagnosed regardless of the presence of other disorders. Logistic regression models were used to examine the association between reported of sexual partners and later mental disorders anxiety, depression, substance dependence. For each mental disorder outcome, we first assessed the interaction between gender and of sex partners. If this was not statistically ificant, we removed the interaction term and fitted two models: adjusting for gender only, and for gender and any mental disorder, at the prior assessment phase e. Disorders included anxiety, depression, mania, eating, substance dependence, schizophrenia, conduct disorder at Adult seeking sex Waller years and antisocial personality disorders at 21 and 26 years.

We also undertook prediction modelling using reported of partners as a continuous variable for the outcome of substance abuse, while restricting this analysis to those with 50 reported partners or less, in order to estimate the interaction point that was most problematic for men and women. Analyses were also conducted using new cases of disorder at each assessment age. Assessment of potential confounding by socioeconomic status in childhood and at adulthood age 32 years Adult seeking sex Waller conducted. Adjustment had no appreciable effect on the so socioeconomic status was not included in the final analyses.

Post-hoc analyses were conducted where the findings were ificant to see if adjustment for early sex, or sexually transmitted infections, explained these findings. Because there were no appreciable differences to the odds ratio and the ificance remained unchanged, only adjustment for prior disorder is shown in the tables.

Table 1 shows the and percentage of men and women with no mental disorder, with anxiety, depression, and substance dependence disorders, as well as new cases of disorder, at three assessment ages. s and percentages of men and women with a mental disorder, and a new disorder, at each assessment age.

The relationships between annual of sex partners and later anxiety and depression are shown in Table 2. Engaging in sex with multiple partners was not associated with an increased risk for anxiety or depression at 21, 26, or 32 years, once adjustment was made for any prior disorder. There was no ificant interaction by gender so the combined are presented. The relationship between the reported of sex partners and later anxiety and depression at three age periods.

The association between of partners and later substance dependence disorders for women and men are shown in Table 3. Because analyses showed a ificant interaction by gender, the are shown separately for men and women.

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For women, there were statistically ificant associations between s of sexual partners and substance dependence disorder Adult seeking sex Waller all age periods and the odds ratio increased with increasing of partners. For men, this was true at ages 21 and 32 but not at age 26 years. Women reporting more than 2. The effect was strongest at age 32, but this was based on small s. Further, the predictive models showed that at ages 21, 26, and 32 years, although having multiple sex partners was followed by substance dependence disorders for both genders, men were more likely than women to have a disorder when they had no or few sex partners whereas women who had more than approximately 10 sex partners in the same time period were much more likely to have a disorder than men see Fig.

Predicted probability of substance dependence disorder from a logistic model including reported of partners, sex, and their interaction. The p value shown is for the interaction term. The association between reported of sex partners and later substance dependence disorder for women and men at three age periods. The effects of alcohol and cannabis dependence disorders were examined separately and similar patterns were shown for both men and women combined Table 4.

Separate by gender were not possible due to very small s in the cells. The association between reported of sexual partners and alcohol and cannabis dependence disorders at three age periods. These analyses were repeated using new cases of disorder, that is, those who had the disorder at one assessment age but did not have it at the assessment age and the are similar.

Table 5 shows no ificant relationships between s of sex partners and later anxiety and depression, except for depression and the 1. Further, when this link was examined using the continuous partner variable, there was no ificant association. The association between the reported of sex partners and new cases of anxiety and depression at three age periods. In Table 6the relationship between of sex partners and new cases of later substance dependence disorder are shown.

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Because of this and due to the ificant differences between men and women in the earlier analyses as shown in Table 3the are again presented separately by gender. These showed similar, though less marked trends: women were more likely than men to have a new substance dependence disorder with increasing s of partners. The association between the reported of sex partners and later new cases of substance dependence disorder at three age periods.

The showed that, taking into prior disorder status, increasing of sex partners was associated with a striking increase in later substance dependence disorders, especially for women. On the other hand, no consistent associations were found with later anxiety or depression at any age.

The were confirmed when using new cases of disorder, that is, a disorder present at one assessment age but not at the assessment age. The strong associations between multiple sex partners and later substance dependence disorders during young adulthood are particularly interesting. Other studies have shown a similar relationship in the reverse direction, that with frequent and heavy drinking, there is a greater likelihood of risk taking, including having multiple sex partners e.

Our study examined substance use at a disorder level and established that the association persisted Adult seeking sex Waller prior substance use and prior mental health problems more generally. That is, the risk of substance dependence disorder increased with increasing of sex partners. It was also present at each age for women. These associations were not confounded by socioeconomic status, age at first coitus, or a history of STIs.

Other studies have examined prospectively early age at first intercourse and subsequent substance dependence disorders. McGue and Iacono reported that sexual intercourse in early adolescence was associated with later substance use disorder. Cornelius et al. To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the effect of multiple sex partners on mental health in young adulthood in a general population sample.

The explanation for the relationship is likely to be complex. Four possibilities are proposed. First, sexual risk taking and substance use may be part of the cluster of risk taking behaviors common in adolescence and young adulthood Arnett, ; Boyer et al. For instance, people who are impulsive may be more likely to engage in both activities and, consequently, more likely to become substance dependent.

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Sexual Debut Timing and Depressive Symptoms in Emerging Adulthood