Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Human Development and Family Science
D B. Carter
Menarche, Menstruation, Sexual self-efficacy, Sexual socialization, Social cognitive learning theory
Social and Behavioral Sciences
This study examines maternal communication at menarche and its effects on early sexual decision-making in young adult women. Drawing on principles from Bandura’s social cognitive learning theory and communication privacy management theory, I predicted that certain types of maternal communication at menarche would either promote or inhibit early sexual self-efficacy, with indirect effects on age at first sexual intercourse. I also predicted that maternal communication at menarche would vary in tone or content, depending on age at menarche, with mothers communicating less to daughters who reached the milestone early. A total of 175 sexually active females aged 18 to 26 years completed an anonymous online survey that assessed their menarcheal experience, various attitudes and beliefs, and sexual outcomes. I used binary logistic regression to examine hypothesized relationships between maternal communication at menarche, emerging sexual self-efficacy, and age at first sexual intercourse. Findings supported the prediction that emerging sexual self-efficacy mediated the association between maternal tone and delayed first sexual intercourse. Accordingly, girls who received maternal communication at menarche that was positive in tone were more likely to feel comfortable obtaining sexual health information at sexual debut and therefore more likely to delay sexual initiation. No differences were found in maternal communication associated with age at menarche. However, early-maturing participants were more likely to report that they did not know what to expect at menarche and were uncomfortable obtaining sexual health information when they were first becoming sexually active. Age at menarche was found to moderate the association between maternal communication at menarche and emerging sexual self-efficacy. Accordingly, early-maturing participants whose mothers provided factual content at menarche were more likely to report that they were comfortable obtaining sexual health information at sexual debut compared to other early-maturing participants who did not get this type of maternal communication. This study extends the social cognitive learning theory to maternal socialization at menarche. Findings underscore the role of maternal communication in sexual development, especially for early-maturing girls. As such, this study provides new avenues for improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes in those currently worst affected, young adult women.
King, Jennifer Horne, "MATERNAL COMMUNICATION AT MENARCHE: EVALUATING DIRECT AND INDIRECT EFFECTS ON AGE AT FIRST SEXUAL INTERCOURSE IN YOUNG ADULT WOMEN" (2020). Dissertations - ALL. 1229.