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November 1st, 2010
05:35 PM ET

Oral sex leads to other sex for teens

Oral sex is often a precursor to teenagers having intercourse, concludes a new study published in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. The study asked more than 600 high school students in California to report on their sexual experiences by filling out surveys twice a year, from the beginning of ninth grade, in 2002, to the end of 11th grade, in 2005.

From the questions asked on the survey, and the six-month window in between each one, researchers learned that most adolescents have their first experiences with oral sex and vaginal intercourse in the same six-month period. They could not extrapolate which experience came first but discovered that among teens who initiated only one of the two types of sex during that six-month window, oral sex usually preceded vaginal intercourse. Additionally, having oral sex once made intercourse more likely to occur. Specifically, initiating oral sex by the end of their freshman year in high school gave teens a 25 percent chance of initiating vaginal sex around the same time and a 50 percent chance of initiating intercourse by the end of their junior year. The results of the study did not vary across any racial, ethnic or gender boundaries.

The goal of the study was to establish the relationship between oral and vaginal sex and whether teens used oral sex as a means of delaying intercourse or if oral sex increased the likelihood of having vaginal sex. The study found the latter to be true, partly because most adolescents don't consider oral sex to be sex in the first place.

"We don't talk about the risks that are inherent in oral sex," says Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, Ph.D, senior author of the study and a professor of pediatrics at the University of California San Francisco. "Teens think oral sex is less risky [than intercourse] and they're right, it's not risk free but it is less risky. But socially and emotionally, they're still being intimate."

Halpern-Felsher believes teenagers are most likely to initiate oral and vaginal sex during their first two years of high school. She advises concerned parents to talk to their teens about oral sex and not focus solely on the risks associated with intercourse.

"We have a disadvantage as health professionals and parents when teens do not equate oral sex with sex," says Halpern-Felher. "They think the messages don't apply to them and we need to make it apply to them, we need to talk to them about oral sex."


soundoff (567 Responses)
  1. wtf

    "most adolescents have their first experiences with oral sex and vaginal intercourse in the same six-month period" – More like six minutes!!!

    "having oral sex once made intercourse more likely to occur" – i bet it did

    "oral sex usually preceded vaginal intercourse" – that is beacuse they are not married.

    November 2, 2010 at 08:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Promeus

    Aah,seeing mortals getting hyped over this humors me, for the pretext is quite clear.

    November 2, 2010 at 09:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Amanda

    @Curt: "This is not how the species works. We teach our kids morals and values." I agree with half of this statement. This actually isn't how the species works, for the most part. Maybe in the times of the Neanderthals, but not now. We actually involve emotion in sex these days. As for morals, give me a person with morals in this day and age, and I'll give you a museum artifact. Moral people are hard to come by today.
    "They understand and make decisions in line with those values. Ignore your kids and they will have sex so they can feel loved. Be a good parent and they will wait until they are adults before having sex." Are you saying I had a bad mother? I had sex willingly the first time when I was 15. It's not bad parenting. My mother was always there for me, and still is, even though I am now grown. Her attitude is that no matter what, I'm still her kid. The difference? She educated me well before 15 about sex, reproduction, and safe sex. Same thing with my boyfriend. He was 13 when he had sex the first time. Just because we experiment when young does not mean we have bad parents. Both of our mothers were doting mothers who talked to us at length. As for kids making decisions based on values, what values? At that age, there are no values. Values come later in life, with experience. At that age, kids do what feels good, and that includes sex.
    "If they are smart they will wait until they are married. And a good parent will not give them too much privacy." Marriage. Right. Maybe in the '50s. but now now. A good parent does give their kids privacy while understanding that their child will find a way to do what they want. I did. I'm not saying condone their behavior. I'm saying educate them so they don't get pregnant at 13, or get a disease. Inform them about safe sex, and if you have to, buy them the condoms so they know you're serious about the safe sex deal. Let them know that while you don't want them having sex at all, you do understand how in the heat of things, sometimes it just happens and you want them protected. I hate to break it to you, but you're not going to be able to be stuck up your kid(s) rear ends all the time. There are going to be times that you're at work, and they're not at school. Hell, kids can get creative while at school. In the gym, behind the buildings, etc. My ex husband sure did. I did, too as a matter of fact. In short, educate your kids so they make smarter decisions.

    November 2, 2010 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. larrywi

    Worked for Bill Clinton, he didn't belive having Monicas lips wrapped around his willy was having sex!

    November 2, 2010 at 09:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. hecep

    And all this time I thought that teens started sex off with a shared milkshake. Zowie!

    November 2, 2010 at 09:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. morris2196

    Reminds me of the time that the federal government spent a lot of money on a study to figure out why prison inmates try to get out of prison.

    November 2, 2010 at 09:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. mttrailboss

    As a father with two teenage daughters, this article or story made my wife and I think about a few very important issues. Drugs or sex.., which of the two is worse ? We came up with, that 'drugs' are more dangerous than sex. We do 'not' promote sex during the junior and senior high school. However.., we both agree with our daughters that 'drugs' are more dangerous than sex. Tough place to step though.. Mike in Montana

    November 2, 2010 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Nancy Young

    What is interesting is that no one is mentioning anything about the risks
    of getting oral cancer as a result of engaging in oral sex.
    The risk is very real and is the result of contacting
    a virus that leads to cancer.

    November 2, 2010 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Chad

    This is like concluding that learning to crawl precedes learning to walk. If the authors are trying to argue for a causal connection, they should have their PhD's revoked because they obviously don't understand the difference between a predictive correlation relationship between variables and causality.

    November 2, 2010 at 09:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Honesty

    This is stupid, of course teens want to expirement. That doesn't mean yo should let them do whatever theywant, but but at least make sure they know what they're doing and what the consequences are if they don't protect themselves.

    And if you don't agree, go bury your head in a bible. Maybe your sons and daughters will be the next Marys and Josephs

    November 2, 2010 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. checkdent

    OK, so teenagers are having sex. What's new here, and what is wrong with that. They're only having sex, they're not having kids. Come on, how many of you have waited till you're a fully responsible grown up before you have sex. Those who started having sex after their 20s, I don't think they waited out of responsibility, they just didn't have luck.

    November 2, 2010 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. shawn

    @RWH

    "Just because their bodies are adult size doesn’t mean their minds are." Just because you teach middle school doesn't mean you have an argument (watching movies they have "no business" watching?) and just because you are a parent doesn't mean you are an EFFECTIVE one. Teenagers have risky sex because there's no reason for them to grow up in this world full of people like you – shallow, corrupt, and completely miss the point when it comes to life, abstinence? for what? so they can live a little bit longer while they're forced to by a society to bullshit they're way through college and get a job that they'll hate for the rest of their lives. You're bitter because you're a 40 year old virgin. I have to agree with AGeek because people like you are only looking for quick fixes to a problem that's inheritantly interlaced with other factors in society, all of you guys focus on the action of risky sex, yet none of you addressed the reason and motivation behind it, i hate to say it but u guys are hacking away at the leaves of evil and when people like AGeek starts hacking at the root, you immediately accuse him of being "unrealistic" or immature even though it is you lot that are immature because you haven't learned to adapted to a very real and actual motivation and reason behind the problems that you see, but you turn a blind eye either because you are blinded by love/hate for your children or yourself or because you are simply stupid.

    November 2, 2010 at 10:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • FireHades

      When you say that a teen's body is adult size that means that they are ready for contact with adults, maybe even older than 50!

      November 3, 2010 at 02:01 | Report abuse |
  13. maine liberal

    LMAO it took a study and research to come ( no pun intended) to this conclusion. Brillant
    The next study will conclude that french kissing leads to arousal

    November 2, 2010 at 10:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Fore Play

    This is why people have such boring sex nowaday's. They are doing studies to try and teach people NOT to have foreplay or any precurser to sex. Don't just hop in bed thrust a few times and call it a night.

    Make an experience out of it, Oral sex is the best way to start a fun rendevous.

    November 2, 2010 at 10:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RodRoderick

    Interesting... Usually after I get a BJ, I'm good. No need for convetional sex...

    November 2, 2010 at 10:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. F. E. LLatio

    AGeek for PREZ!
    It's about time these repressed conservative fools are gagged. You can't stop kids from experimenting. That's how you get wild parties in barns where they get drunk and screw the entire football team (who in turn get protected by law because they are football players in a rural setting). Teach them what it means to have sex. Teach them the consequences on a psychological, social and medical/biological level. And teach them that it will be THEIR decision. Not their peers.

    November 2, 2010 at 10:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Leila

    Shocker...oral sex may lead to sex...Yet another mindless research...

    November 2, 2010 at 10:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. kate

    First, human beings are mammals. Mammals are sexual beings. Our bodies go through natural hormonal changes as we develop that cause sexual urges – urges that are natural because we are mammals.

    Second, the cause of STD's and teenage pregnancy stems from poor parenting. This is different than the first issue.

    Conservative parents don't even want the word "sex" used around their children because they believe it will cause their kids to have sex. Their rationale is that if you acknowledge sex then you condone it. These people do not recognize the natural development of human beings as sexual creatures.

    Liberal parents accept that the natural consequences of being human involve sex. Sex should be an accepted and natural part of life.

    Poor parenting rules the day. Studies show that half of married women cheat on their spouses. More than half of married men cheat. Half of all marriages end in divorce. Children of divorced parents are almost always used as pawns by the hate-filled parents trying to emotionally scar their ex-spouse. Those are the realities. Parents say one thing and then do another. They lead by example. And, the example is not good.

    Children HEAR, "Don't have sex" from their parents. Children FEEL the urges brought on by hormonal changes. Where are the parents? Children SEE their parents fighting over sexual promiscuity, SEE their reaction to innuendo in movies, SEE mom's sex toys, SEE dad's porno magazines. Children HEAR their parents talking negatively about each other.

    Poor parenting = not educating your children with actual FACTS + saying one thing and doing another (hypocrisy).

    November 2, 2010 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. penny

    Mary, mother of Jesus, was maybe 14 years old. Most likely 12. I'm not at all advocating teen pregnancy or teen sex but it's a fact that our bodies develop much faster than our minds. With all the hormones we're pumping into foods that do make our way to our bodies, (you don't eat fish out of contaminated lakes do you?) our girls are developing even faster. They are developing breast and getting their periods at 8 & 9 years old. Plus, we use sex to sell everything from clothes and hamburgers to library cards and furniture. Kids are bombarded with sexualized images. Yet we expect them not to experiment. Get real.

    November 2, 2010 at 10:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Tony

    I don't believe this. I think i need to conduct my own study to find out if this is true. First i just need some volunteers, preferably females XD. No really i do ;3

    November 2, 2010 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. dave

    I find this hard to swallow---- Oral sex before vaginal sex -- isn't that foreplay?

    November 2, 2010 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Reason

    100 years ago, it was normal to be married by 12 years old. This idea that teenagers should avoid sex until they marry at age 25+ is just putting them through torture than no other teens in past history have ever had to go through. Look it up. Teach them how to have sex safely. If you use a condom correctly, don't have sex when the other person has any sores, and only have sex with your current girlfriend/boyfriend, the risk of STD's is very small. Playing sports is more dangerous. Educate them, and let them choose.

    November 2, 2010 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Joe

    Cnn...I like to eat pussy! God if it tastes that good surely I'll want to stick my prick in it!

    November 2, 2010 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Joe

    What is it with people in this country SEX is NOT a bad thing...we should have it WAY more often. Man I should have it way more often! Ahhh...

    November 2, 2010 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Alicia

    Yes, kids have sex. This is why we need comprehensive sex ed, to teach them how to prevent STDs and pregnancy.

    November 2, 2010 at 14:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Puptent

    Doesn't oral sex lead to vaginal sex in adults too? It does at my house...

    November 2, 2010 at 15:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • David2u

      You actually put your mouth on that "thing"? eeeeeew : )

      November 3, 2010 at 08:06 | Report abuse |
  27. Cieje Valentine

    I think, on a technical level Aspergers is a DISORDER, not a DISEASE necessarily.. I have personally suspected myself to have it, but just realized that I'm just very intellectual/geeky by nature and simply ignore most social signals when it suits me to do so.. As far as the teen sexuality issue, I feel that LOVE conquers all. I believe that If you genuinely teach your child the ways that are written in the BIBLE, and bring them up with RESPECT and DISCIPLINE tempered out of LOVE, all you would need to do to minimize the chances of them acting like MAMMALS is to tell them that they would greatly disappoint you if they did such things.. If you have your child GENUINELY LOVING AND RESPECTING you, they would not want to do these forbidden things until the appropriate time of their lives simply out of FEAR OF HURTING YOUR FEELINGS.. It's a novel concept, someone should write it down.. OH WAIT, I already DID!

    November 2, 2010 at 17:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. EBell

    Veritas (Now that is ironic) The reason we have such a hith teen pregnancy rate is NOT because of "abstinence only" programs but because "we" as a society have now decided that sex isn't wrong! Back when we were still a Christian nation, premarital sex still had a stigma and fewer kids had sex. Less sex...lower rate of pregnancy. Now, we have decided that Judeo-Christian morality has no place in society so sec is ok. More sex.....higher pregnancy rate. This is not rocket science.
    However, as to the premise of the study that oral sex leads to vaginal sex....duh!

    November 2, 2010 at 17:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • person

      Are you seriously insinuating that sex is "wrong"? What era are you from? And I don't know why this has become an issue of morality for you. And when you talk about rising teen pregnancy rates your leaving out confounding factors, like how there is also an increasing number of teenagers in the US. So even if the same percentage of teens had premarital sex and became pregnant, then there would still be more teen pregnancies. Also society is changing and as a people MUST change with it; newer generations will outlive the older ones so change is inevitable. If more teens want to have sex, there's nothing that can be done about it. That's also why merely screaming "don't have sex" (via abstinence only education) is an ill-suited tactic for this period in time, it's better to provide teens with defensive knowledge because they WILL have sex.
      Finally, this nation may have been have been founded by Christians, but the due to the glorious freedoms that the citizenry enjoys we've become a much greater, multi-cultured/ethnic/denominational entity. Besides the morality that "Judeo-Christianity" bestows on the world isn't all that unique, it's just the most publicized.

      November 2, 2010 at 21:19 | Report abuse |
  29. person

    Just looking at the first long string of comments at the top of this thread, I'm finding a fair amount of logical fallacy. Furthermore, why are we still in an age where people think that teens are better off not knowing about sex?

    November 2, 2010 at 20:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Kris

    OF COURSE oral sex is a precursor to regular sex.. isn't that how it is for adults too?

    November 3, 2010 at 00:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. FireHades

    This sounds like some onion/yesmen sabotage. Of course this is true and so be it. kids will bug out no matter what dont put a scale on how they fiddle around as allowable. And there's another article, "Bipolar, substance abuse linked to suicide risk in vets" How do they sell this garbage as news?

    http://pagingdrgupta.blogs.cnn.com/2010/11/01/bipolar-substance-abuse-linked-to-suicide-risk-in-soldiers/

    November 3, 2010 at 01:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. funny

    does such thing needs a study? its too obvious, any normal person can figure it out.

    November 3, 2010 at 04:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. David2u

    Did someone actually pay for this"study?"

    November 3, 2010 at 08:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. David2u

    It has been discovered in a recent study, that having cigarets in your shirt pocket will lead to smoking!

    November 3, 2010 at 08:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Bill Michael

    As long as the parties consent, it's nobody's business what kind of sex you have or when you have it. Just use a condom each and every time. Don't get involved in drugs. Beyond that, people ought to mind their own business.

    November 3, 2010 at 08:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Kelly

    what's with all of the commenting about?haha. anyways, in addition with this article, here's a good site for it. http://iwantmyboyfriendback.net/articles/
    I bet more people are interested with this site. Try it, I've read some of their articles there. Well, it's great. Helpful though.

    November 3, 2010 at 10:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Dave

    does it lead to divorce? hehe. maybe some. check this out http://newmystopadivorce.com/articles/

    November 3, 2010 at 10:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. John

    pregnancy it is!ahaha. read this http://neweivfpregnancy.com/articles

    November 3, 2010 at 10:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Jack Hammer

    I know I "experimented" with oral sex when I was a freshman. Best science experiment ever and the greatest thing to happen to my self confidence. And No S-H-I-T it leads to intercourse. Ever hear of 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, score...... It took a study to figure this out?

    November 3, 2010 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Aaron

    Haha, you needed a study to prove this did you?

    November 3, 2010 at 14:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Steveo

    Science, spending millions of dollars to determine things we already know.

    November 3, 2010 at 19:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Jon

    My aunt thought that just thinking sexual thoughts could make you pregnant (back in the 50's). And I thought that just any ol' sex thought in the teen years leads to some kind of sexual activity so this study was no surprise.

    November 5, 2010 at 01:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Cuni E Lingus

    Good to know that kids are learning to put their mouth where the money is. In this economy, it may be the only marketable skill they get in high school.

    November 16, 2010 at 21:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. gman

    btw im just keeping USA in check, making sure we actually have freedom of speech here... if so, it would probably be one of our last few rights we have here. i guess that's what happens when your fat and lazy lol no offense :p

    November 18, 2010 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
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    June 7, 2011 at 23:56 | Report abuse | Reply
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