Sex education boosts the likelihood that teens will delay having intercourse, according to a new study published in the January edition of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Researchers found that male teens who received sex education in school were 71 percent less likely — and similarly educated female teens were 59 percent less likely — to have sexual intercourse before age 15.

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Males who attended school were 2.77 times more likely to use birth control the first time they had intercourse if they had been in sex-education classes.

“Sex education seems to be working,” said study lead author Trisha Mueller, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a news release. “It seems to be especially effective for populations that are usually at high risk.”

The researchers found that sex education reduced by 91 percent the risk that African-American females in school would have sex before age 15. In general, however, sex education appeared to have no effect on whether female teens used birth control.

The study looked at a sample of 2,019 teenagers ages 15 to 19 years, who responded to a survey during a 2002 national study.

The researchers analyzed the possible effects that sex education had on the sex lives of teens and adjusted the results to account for the effects of factors like the wealth of their families.

The study did not explore whether classes should teach about contraception or focus entirely on abstinence. Students received sex education if they had either or both types of instruction, according to the study.