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Sex and Teenagers: How Common Is Teenage Oral Sex?

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Updated February 03, 2014

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Question: Sex and Teenagers: How Common Is Teenage Oral Sex?
Many people believe that teenagers do not consider oral sex to be "real sex" and therefore practice it somewhat casually. Others question whether or not that is actually true. Several studies have looked at how often teenagers have oral sex.
Answer: Studies suggest that as many as 20 percent of adolescents have had oral sex by the end of their freshman year in high school. Furthermore, by the end of their teenage years, more than half of young men and women have participated in oral sex with an opposite sex partner.

Unfortunately, due to the fact that sex education programs often primarily focus on pregnancy risk, many of these teenagers are unaware that oral sex can have real risks - both physical and emotional. The risks of teenage oral sex are not as high as those for intercourse or anal sex, but oral sex does put teenagers at risk for a variety of STDs including syphilis, herpes, and HPV related throat cancer. These risks can be reduced by using barriers for both fellatio and cunnilingus, but many teenagers are not aware that safe sex is even an option for oral sex.

Having oral sex at a young age may also be a sign of a teenager's intention to engage in other, potentially riskier, sexual activities such as intercourse. One 2010 study found that students who decided to have oral sex were significantly more likely to also explore vaginal sex during high school than those who refrained from oral sex. Most of them waited less than 6 months.

Sources:
Song et al. (2010) "Predictive Relationship Between Adolescent Oral and Vaginal Sex" Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. Published Online Ahead of Print. Accessed Online 11/1/2010
Halpern-Felsher et al. (2005) "Oral versus vaginal sex among adolescents: perceptions, attitudes, and behavior." Pediatrics 115(4):845-851
Mosher et al. (2005) Sexual behavior and selected health measures: men and women 15-44 years of age, United States, 2002. Adv Data. 362:1-55

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