Two-thirds of young adults have had oral sex
While fewer teens and young adults are having oral sex as compared to previous rates, more youngsters are still engaging in oral sex than vaginal intercourse that is not as safe as safe they may think, health officers has claimed.
The CDC's National Health Statistics Reports tracks sex trends among teens and young adults in an effort to help the government agency in better understand current behaviours and design potential awareness interventions.
According to the report's authors, some adolescents have oral sex prior to vaginal intercourse to maintain virginity or avoid pregnancy or risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
The results of the study showed that two-thirds of males and females between the ages of 15 and 24 had ever had oral sex.
Among young females surveyed, 26 percent had oral sex prior to vaginal intercourse, 27 percent had oral sex after their first time having vaginal sex, 7.4 percent had oral sex on the same occasion as their first time having intercourse, and 5.1 percent had oral sex but no intercourse during the survey period.
For males aged 15 to 24, 24 percent had first oral sex before having intercourse, 24 had oral sex after first intercourse, 12 percent had oral sex on same occasion as first intercourse, and 6.5 percent had oral sex but no vaginal intercourse at the time they were surveyed.
"There's been a perception for many years that there's some kind of epidemic of oral sex among teens," CBS News quoted Leslie Kantor, vice president for education of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, as telling The New York Times.
"If nothing else, this data provides a realistic sense of the numbers," Kantor said.
The findings may help the CDC design better education programs for teens and young adults, specifically when it comes to oral sex.
While risk for transmitting HIV through oral sex is low, the CDC said several studies have found that oral sex can lead to sexually transmitted diseases including Chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea and syphilis.
"I would say that the risk of STD transmission through oral sex is underappreciated and underestimated," Dr. Christopher Hurt, a clinical assistant professor in the division of infectious disease at the University of North Carolina who was not involved in the new report, told HealthDay.
"As part of sex education programs, kids need to be made aware of that fact: that oral sex is not a completely risk-free activity," he said.
The study has been published on CDC's National Health Statistics Reports' website.