Oral Sex Quick Facts

by Chad Hills

What is it?
Oral sex is contact of a person’s mouth or tongue with another person’s genitals.1

Who’s doing it?

  • Adults – In the early 1990s, 75 percent of adults said they had had oral sex.2 One in four reported practicing oral sex the last time they had sex.3
  • Older Teens – More than 80 percent of sexually active high school teens and 20 percent of virgin high school teens have had oral sex.4  
  • Younger Teens – Twenty percent of 12- to 15-year-olds have had oral sex, though a fourth of them have not had vaginal sex.5

Can you get STDs through oral sex?

  • Yes.
  • Syphilis, herpes and gonorrhea throat infections are transmitted easily through oral sex.6
  • Chlamydia and Human Papillomavirus are transmittable via oral sex to a lesser degree,7 and HIV is transmittable by oral sex, though to a still lesser degree.8
  • More than 80 percent of teens who know what oral sex is know that they can get an STD via oral sex, though 13- to 14-year-olds are less likely to know the risks than 15- to 16-year-olds.9
  • Only 30 percent of teens consistently use protection when practicing oral sex.10

What do teens think about oral sex?

  • Seventy percent of 13- to 16-year-olds know what oral sex is. 11
  • More than 75 percent of teens classify oral sex as “sex.”12
  • Half of teen boys don’t think oral sex is as big a deal as vaginal sex, but less than 40 percent of teen girls think it isn’t as big a deal.13
  • More than half of teens think those who practice only oral sex are still virgins.14
  • Half of teens say the first time they had oral sex, they did so to remain a virgin.15

 
Originally published: March 2005. Researchers/authors: Kjersten Oligney and Linda Klepacki.

Web posting by Chad Hills, a research analyst for gambling policy and sexual health for CitizenLink, an affiliate of Focus on the Family.
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ENDNOTES:
1 “The Facts About Oral Sex & STDs,” The Medical Institute, http://www.medinstitute.org, accessed 2/3/05.
2 “The Facts About Oral Sex & STDs.”
3 “The Facts About Oral Sex & STDs.”
4 Newcomer SF, Udry JR. “Oral sex in an adolescent population.” Arch Sex Behav. 1985;14:41-46, referenced in “The Facts About Oral Sex & STDs.”
5 “Oral Sex and STDs,” Sexual Health Update, The Medical Institute, Fall 2003.
6 “The Facts About Oral Sex & STDs.”
7 “The Facts About Oral Sex & STDs.”
8 “The Facts About Oral Sex & STDs.”
9 “Nearly 3 in 10 young teens ‘sexually active,'” NBC News, PEOPLE Magazine commission national poll, 26 January 05.
10 “Nearly 3 in 10 young teens ‘sexually active,'” 26 January 05
11 “Nearly 3 in 10 young teens ‘sexually active,'” 26 January 05
12 “Nearly 3 in 10 young teens ‘sexually active,'” 26 January 05
13 “Nearly 3 in 10 young teens ‘sexually active,'” 26 January 05
14 “Nearly 3 in 10 young teens ‘sexually active,'” 26 January 05
15 “Nearly 3 in 10 young teens ‘sexually active,'” 26 January 05



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