About two-thirds of older teens and young adults in the United States have had oral sex, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Between 2007 and 2010, 66 percent of women and 65 percent of men ages 15 to 24 reported they had either given or received oral sex with a partner of the opposite sex, the report found.
Similar percentages reported having vaginal intercourse, with 67 percent of young women saying they had ever had sex, and 63 percent of young men saying the same.
The new report was one of the first to gather information on whether teens and young adults tend to have oral sex before or after they first have vaginal intercourse. Some teens may delay intercourse to maintain their virginity or avoid the risk of pregnancy, while others may move rapidly from oral sex to first intercourse, the CDC says.
The report found that, among teen girls and young women, about 26 percent had oral sex before they ever had vaginal intercourse, while 27 percent had vaginal intercourse before they ever had oral sex. Another 7.4 percent said they had oral and vaginal sex for the first time on the same occasion, and 5.1 percent had had oral sex, but had never had vaginal intercourse.
The picture was similar for males: 24 percent had oral sex before vaginal intercourse, 24 percent had vaginal intercourse before oral sex, 12 percent had oral and vaginal sex for the first time on the same occasion, and 6.5 percent had had oral sex, but had never had vaginal intercourse.
Research suggests teens view oral sex as less risky than vaginal sex. Although oral sex eliminates the risk of pregnancy, and lowers the risk of HIV transmission, studies show oral sex can transmit chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea and syphilis, the CDC says.
According to the report, those who had had oral sex but not vaginal intercourse were more likely to be younger, live with both biological parents at age 14, and have more educated mothers, compared with those who had had both oral sex and vaginal intercourse.
Among girls, those who reported having vaginal intercourse before oral sex were more likely to report losing their virginity before age 15, compared with those who first had vaginal intercourse after having oral sex.
For boys, those who had oral and vaginal sex for the first time on the same occasion were more likely to report losing their virginity when they were younger than 15, compared with those who had had oral sex before or after vaginal sex.
Overall, 28 percent of girls and 29 percent of boys said they had never engaged in either type of sexual contact. The likelihood that participants had either type of sexual contact increased with age.
The results, which are based on interviews with 6,346 people, are published on Aug. 16 by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.
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