Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Teens believe oral sex is safer, more acceptable to peers


Young adolescents believe that oral sex is less risky to their health and emotions than vaginal sex, more prevalent among teens their age and more acceptable among their peers. They are also more likely to try oral sex, according to a UCSF study published in the April 2005 issue of Pediatrics.

"These findings suggest that adults should discuss more than one type of sexual practice when they counsel teens," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, PhD, associate professor of adolescent medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She conducted a survey of 580 ethnically diverse Northern California ninth-graders in the first study to investigate adolescents’ perceptions of the consequences of having oral sex as opposed to vaginal sex.

The survey showed that these young teens considered oral sex to be significantly less risky to their health than vaginal sex. The adolescents believed that oral sex also was less likely to have negative social and emotional consequences, such as a bad reputation, getting into trouble, feeling bad about themselves, feeling guilty, or having a relationship with a partner become worse.

The study findings also showed that teens considered oral sex less of a threat to their values and beliefs. They thought that oral sex is more acceptable than vaginal sex for adolescents their own age, when the partners are dating each other and also when they are not dating. The teens also expected that more of their peers will have oral sex than vaginal sex in the near future.

Approximately one-fifth (19.6 percent) of these ninth graders reported that they had tried oral sex, compared to 13.5 percent who said they had vaginal sex. Almost one-third (31.5 percent) said they intended to have oral sex within the next six months, compared to 26.2 percent who intended to have vaginal sex.

"The fact that young adolescents around age 14 are having or considering oral sex and consider it safer and more acceptable than vaginal sex is important information for parents, health care providers and others who work with youth," Halpern-Felsher said. "When we counsel adolescents about the risks and benefits associated with sex, we need to understand how they perceive it among themselves."

Guidelines for adolescent health care call for physicians and other health providers to discuss sex and other risky behaviors during regular medical checkups. Those sessions are one opportunity to work with adolescents on the topic of risks and preventive measures with oral sex as well as vaginal and anal sex, Halpern-Felsher said.

"Parents and caregivers also should find opportunities to engage teens in discussions about the emotional and social aspects of all types of sex, to get them thinking about whether their perceptions match their own situations," she said.

One troubling finding of the study was the teens’ perception of the health risks of oral sex. Most of the participants recognized that there is some risk of infection with sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and HIV, and accurately ranked this risk less than with vaginal sex. However, one in seven participants thought that the risk of STDs from oral sex would be zero.

The UCSF researchers noted other studies that show a general misperception that oral sex entails no risk at all or very little risk. When oral sex is more frequent, sexually transmitted infection rates could rise if those who engage in oral sex do not use barrier protection, they pointed out.

"There is not much data about the chances of sexually transmitted infections due to oral sex, but there is a real risk," Halpern-Felsher said. "When teens are engaging in or considering oral sex, they need to know about methods to keep themselves safe from physical as well as emotional risks."

The findings come from a larger longitudinal study on the relationship between adolescents’ perceptions and their actions when behaviors pose health and emotional risks. In previous research, Halpern-Felsher has shown that teenagers are highly aware of risks, and that time and experience lead to changes in their perception of the danger to themselves.

Participants in the study were students at two California high schools, who completed a questionnaire during class after their parents consented to their participation. The mean age of the participants was 14.5 years; 58 percent were girls and 42 percent were boys. Their ethnic diversity was similar to that of their schools: approximately 40 percent White, 24 percent Latino, 17 percent Asian with others describing themselves as Pacific Islander, African American, American Indian/Alaskan Native and mixed or other.

Co-authors on the study were Jodi L. Cornell, MSW, MA and Rhonda Y. Kropp, BScN, MPH, of the UCSF Division of Adolescent Medicine, UCSF Department of Pediatrics, and Jeanne M. Tschann, PhD, of the UCSF Department of Psychiatry. This research was supported in part by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the William T. Grant Foundation.

Janet Basu | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>