A new study says that young Australians often labor under the misconception that their peers are having more sex than them and consequently pressurize themselves to do the same.
Around 70 per cent of the young participants in the Melbourne-based study reported believing that they had had fewer sexual partners than their "average" peers.
"We can make an observation that young people seem to think other people are having more sex than they are," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Associate Professor Margaret Hellard, of the Burnet Institute's Centre for Population Health, as saying.
"It's worth investigating further ... whether or not this feeling changes how they think they ought to be behaving," she said.
The survey was conducted on almost 450 people between the ages of 16 to 29.
Hellard says that the study suggested that Aussies have a mean number of 5.5 sexual partners each over of their lifetimes, higher than what was found in similar other studies.
The researcher said that the participants believed that their peers had had a mean of 6.6 sexual partners each.
"What it all comes down to is we don't have clear conversations with young people (about sex)," Hellard said.
"That's why many young people spend their time thinking something else is happening out there than what is actually happening," she added.
Hellard further said that it was important that young Australians be told it was okay to hold off starting to have sex, or to go without for a time, and that it was "not always the case" their peers had multiple sexual partners.
The study's findings have been reported in the journal Sexual Health.