But some sexual health experts worry that the study's failure to distinguish between comprehensive and abstinence-only approaches could give the public the wrong idea about the efficacy of simply telling kids not to have sex.
They found that boys in this age bracket who received formal sex education -- either in schools, churches or community organizations -- were 71 percent less likely to have sex before age 15. Girls aged 15 to 19 who received formal sex education were 59 percent less likely to have sex before age 15.
Formal sex education also seems to lead to safer sex, the study found. Males attending school who had received sex education were almost three times more likely to use birth control the first time they had sex -- though no such associations were found among females.
"This study expands on studies that have shown that sexuality education can delay the onset of sexual intercourse -- once again dispelling the myth that early sexuality education might increase sexual activity," explains Eli Coleman, director of the program in human sexuality at the University of Minnesota Medical School. "This study shows that sexuality education leads to more responsible sexual behavior."
Pepper Schwartz, professor of sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle, agrees.
"I am thrilled to have this study because it confirms, in some ways, the bottom-line fact: talking about sex, and giving information about sex, makes kids more thoughtful about it and more likely to be able to form a moral code and plan of action -- rather than unconscious reaction."
Judy Kuriansky, author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dating" and "Generation Sex," says the gender differences seen in the responses for boys and for girls in this study are also intriguing.
"It is interesting that [sex education] is more effective for boys than girls," she says. "I think this is because girls still are pressured into having sex to please a boyfriend and to keep the boyfriend."
As for the overall findings of the study, Kuriansky says the research shows that "love can wait if [teens] learn about sex."