PLANO, TEXAS—Tracy Highfill is divorced and says she first had sex around the age of 16.
"Absolutely, very close to that," said Plano resident Tracy Highfill.
Highfill is part of a group called Divorcing Independent Very Able Survivors, or D.I.V.A.S. It provides assistance to women dealing with crumbling marriages. She agrees with a new study that says women who have sex too early in life may be prone to divorce.
"Sometimes it just works out that they don`t function very well if they`ve had sex so early," said Highfill.
The study from the University of Iowa says 31 percent of women who started having sex before age 16 divorced within five years of marriage; 47 percent divorced within 10 years. The study says the divorce rate almost drops in half for women who waited until after age 16.
"I think that the research proves true," said Plano therapist Susan Fletcher, PhD.
Fletcher says when women have sex too soon they may take the emotional component of relationships for granted and be unable to commit.
"You can notice a difference in the attitudes somebody has about sexuality, and marriage and relationships, based on when they had their first sexual experience," she said.
A 16-year-old YouTube star, Courtney Stodden, recently married a 51 year-old TV star. Fletcher says she worries about long term effects adult behavior can have on teens.
"Those people didn`t develop as well emotionally and of course that can lead to divorce too," said Fletcher.
Tracy Highfill says she'd advice her 16-year-old self to wait. "They`re going to have a lot of time later for that down the road," she said.