Coital Activity among Married Thai Women: Evidence from the 1987 Thailand Demographic and Health Survey

Publication Abstract

Chayovan, Napaporn, and John E. Knodel. "Coital Activity among Married Thai Women: Evidence from the 1987 Thailand Demographic and Health Survey." PSC Research Report No. 91-221. 7 1991.

The present study examines marital sexual activity among reproductive-age, currently married women in Thailand based on the 1987 Thailand Demographic and Health Survey (TDHS). The analysis is based on responses to questions on recent coital activity (inquiring if the respondent had experienced coitus during the prior 4 weeks; if so, the number of times; and the duration of time since last coitus) and on the resumption of coital activity following childbirth (inquiring if the respondent had resumed sexual relations since giving birth and, if so, after how many months). The TDHS is the first nationally representative survey to collect such information in Thailand.

The objectives of the analysis are twofold: to evaluate the quality of data on coital activity and to provide a descriptive analysis of coital activity. Three aspects of data quality are explored: levels of non-response, response heaping, and response consistency. The descriptive analysis explores the influence of menses, pregnancy, recent childbearing and breastfeeding on coital activity; the relationship of coital activity to age of wife and duration of marriage; socio-economic correlates; the overlap between postpartum abstinence and amenorrhea; and the association between contraceptive use, reproductive goals, and coital activity.

The overall level of marital coital frequency indicated by the TDHS is relatively low compared to that found in a number of other DHS countries as well as in comparison to previous sub-national studies in Thailand. Nevertheless, the indicators of data quality show that non-response is very low, response heaping is only moderate, and that there is considerable consistency between the responses to the various questions dealing with coital activity.

Marital coital activity is found to be considerably reduced during the days when the wife is menstruating, to decline steadily with advancing pregnancy and to increase rapidly following childbirth. Frequent night-time breastfeeding is associated with lower coital activity. Considerable overlap is apparent between the period of postpartum abstinence and amenorrhea. Both age and marital duration are negatively associated with coital activity and a pronounced "honeymoon" effect is evident among very recently married couples. Socio-economic and religio-ethnic differentials in coital activity are modest. Both the desire for additional children and contraceptive use are associated with greater coital activity.

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