Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Teens Believe Oral Sex Is Safer, More Acceptable To Peers

Date:
April 12, 2005
Source:
University Of California, San Francisco
Summary:
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.

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.

Related Articles


"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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California, San Francisco. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California, San Francisco. "Teens Believe Oral Sex Is Safer, More Acceptable To Peers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 April 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050411135016.htm>.
University Of California, San Francisco. (2005, April 12). Teens Believe Oral Sex Is Safer, More Acceptable To Peers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050411135016.htm
University Of California, San Francisco. "Teens Believe Oral Sex Is Safer, More Acceptable To Peers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050411135016.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Malnutrition on the Rise as Violence Flares in C. Africa

Malnutrition on the Rise as Violence Flares in C. Africa

AFP (Jan. 28, 2015) Violence can flare up at any moment in Bambari with only a bridge separating Muslims and Christians. Malnutrition is on the rise and lack of water means simple cooking fires threaten to destroy makeshift camps where people are living. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Poultry Culled in Taiwan to Thwart Bird Flu

Poultry Culled in Taiwan to Thwart Bird Flu

Reuters - News Video Online (Jan. 28, 2015) Taiwan culls over a million poultry in efforts to halt various strains of avian flu. Julie Noce reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Media Criticizing Parents For Not Vaccinating Children

Media Criticizing Parents For Not Vaccinating Children

Newsy (Jan. 28, 2015) As the Disneyland measles outbreak continues to spread, the media says parents who choose not to vaccinate their children are part of the cause. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Bite Victim Making Amazing Recovery

Shark Bite Victim Making Amazing Recovery

AP (Jan. 27, 2015) A Texas woman who lost more than five pounds of flesh to a shark in the Bahamas earlier this month could be released from a Florida hospital soon. Experts believe she was bitten by a bull shark while snorkeling. (Jan. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins