Open Access Research article

Gender-based differences in the high-risk sexual behaviours of young people aged 15-29 in Melilla (Spain): a cross-sectional study

Esperanza Romero-Estudillo1, Emilio González-Jiménez1*, María C Mesa-Franco2 and Inmaculada García-García3

  • * Corresponding author: Emilio González-Jiménez

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nursing, Faculty of Nursing, C/ Santander N° 1 (52071), University of Granada, Melilla, Spain

2 Department of Evolutionary Psychology and Education, Faculty of Education Science, Campus Universitario de La Cartuja, s/n (18071), University of Granada, Granada, Spain

3 Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, Av/ Madrid s/n (18071), University of Granada, Granada, Spain

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:745  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-745

Published: 23 July 2014



Research confirms the existence of gender-based differences regarding the high-risk sexual behaviour (non-use of condoms and casual partners) of young men and women. The objectives were to provide evidence for this association; to analyse the reasons why both sexes have sexual relations with casual partners and to ascertain the motives for condom use or non-use during casual sex.


A cross-sectional study was performed on a sample of 900 participants, 524 males and 376 females. All participants were 15-29 (20.93 ± 4.071) years of age and came from four different centres (a university, two secondary schools, and a military base) in Melilla (Spain). The participants were given a socio-demographic survey as well as a psychometric text on high-risk sexual behaviour.


The results found gender-based significant differences for sexual relations with penetration (p = 0.001), number of sexual partners (p = 0.001), and sexual relations with casual partners (p = 0.001). In all of these variables, male participants had higher percentages than female participants. Reasons for having casual sexual relations were also different for men and women, differences were found for the items, opportunity (p = 0.001), interest in knowing the other person (p = 0.015), physical excitement (p = 0.056) and drug consumption (p = 0.059). Regarding the reasons for consistent condom use with casual partners, there were differences for the item, my demand of a condom (p = 0.002). For the non-use of condoms with casual partners, differences were found for the items, I do not like to use condoms (p = 0.001) and condoms lessen sensitivity and reduce pleasure (p = 0.009).


Men and women were found to have different high-risk sexual behaviours and practices. Of the motives for having sexual relations with casual partners, male participants considered opportunity and interest in knowing the other person to be more important than the female participants. Regarding condom use, the female participants’ demand to use a condom was a significant gender-based difference. In contrast to the young women, the male participants mostly justified not using a condom because it lessened sensitivity and reduced pleasure.

Gender; Sexual behaviour; Risk behaviour; Young people