The findings from a new survey indicate that 54 percent of teenage girls and 55 percent of teenage boys have had oral sex, according to a report released Thursday by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.
The report also shows that oral sex is now more common among teens than sexual intercourse. In fact, about one in four teens who have not had sexual intercourse have experienced oral sex.
“This is a topic that has been covered a lot in the press over the last 3 or 4 years,” Bill Albert, communication director for the National Campaign, told Reuters Health. “But past reports were based on anecdote rather than fact. For the first time, we have some data that helps shed light on this subject.”
The findings are based on analysis of data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, which was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Albert said that roughly 10,000 adolescents were included in the survey.
Other highlights from the study include:
- The likelihood of having had oral sex increased with age. For example, 42 percent of girls between 15 and 17 years of age reported having oral sex compared with 72 percent of 18-to 19-year-old girls.
- Among boys who have had sexual intercourse, the percentage that engaged in oral sex rose between 1995 and 2002. By contrast, oral sex rates did not increase significantly among boys who had not had sexual intercourse.
- Among teens who have experienced sexual intercourse, at least 80 percent have also engaged in oral sex.
- Among teens who have not had sexual intercourse, the percent who have had oral sex varies according to the reason for not having sexual intercourse. The lowest rates of oral sex -- around 19 percent -- were for teens who cited religious or moral reasons for not having sexual intercourse. The highest rates -- around 38 percent -- were for teens who reported the time was not right for sexual intercourse.
“For parents, I think these data show that conversations about sex need to be both broader and more specific,” Albert said. “For healthcare providers, the implication is that we have to do a better job in getting messages to teens about the potential health risks of oral sex.”