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Fewer teens having oral sex
More than a third of teens engage in oral sex by the time they reach 17, according to the CDC.
August 17th, 2012
10:41 AM ET

Fewer teens having oral sex

Fewer teens aged 15 to 17 are having oral sex now than in 2002, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, but the number remains high.

The report, based on data from The National Survey of Family Growth, found that more than a third of teens had engaged in oral sex by the time they turned 17. That number climbed to almost 50% by age 19, and more than 80% for 24-year-olds.

The study - based on computer surveys given to over 6,000 teens - also looked at the timing of first oral sex in relation to the timing of first vaginal intercourse. It found that the prevalence of having oral sex before vaginal intercourse was about the same as those having vaginal intercourse before oral sex.

"This new CDC analysis debunks many myths about when young people are initiating oral sex," wrote Leslie Kantor, vice president for education at Planned Parenthood, a family planning advocacy group. "Although there has never been data to support it, there has been the perception that many teens engage in oral sex as a 'risk-free' alternative to intercourse. But the CDC analysis shows that sexually active young people are likely to engage in both activities," she wrote.

How Americans view teen sex

But oral sex, like vaginal intercourse, is not risk-free. According to the CDC's website, "numerous studies have demonstrated that oral sex can result in the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted disease," not the least of which is Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the disease known to cause both cervical and some throat cancers.

"It's widely accepted that there is an increased number of head and neck cancers today due to changes in sexual practices in the '60s, '70s and '80s," - specifically, an increase in oral sex, said Dr. Otis Brawley, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.

Regardless of whether teens have oral or vaginal sex first, Kantor says, it's imperative they have the knowledge to make an educated decision about their sexual health.

"We need to make sure that young people have the skills to negotiate what they do and don’t want to do in sexual relationships, as well as education about and access to condoms and birth control so that they can protect themselves from STDs and pregnancy and remain healthy," she wrote.

Sex education: Talking to your teen about sex


soundoff (624 Responses)
  1. Well blow me down

    Wow what is going on don't they know that oral sex is the safest of sex. Hey kids don't do it the Palin kid way (abstinence) it does not work.

    August 17, 2012 at 20:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pat from central oregon

      Evidentally you don't know what you are talking about. The HIV virus and other STDs are transmitted through oral sex. Hopefully you are not sexually active.

      August 17, 2012 at 23:17 | Report abuse |
    • Greenspam

      It's because it's against the Bible to have oral sex.

      August 17, 2012 at 23:38 | Report abuse |
    • Veritas

      Where in the Bible does it say not to have oral sex? Where does the Bible even mention oral sex? Please cite book, chapter and verse since you are such an expert.

      August 18, 2012 at 00:29 | Report abuse |
    • Idjiot

      Shut the hell up Veritas.

      August 18, 2012 at 00:50 | Report abuse |
    • Elskdfh

      Idjiot doesn't know how to spell idiot. Hahahahaha.

      August 18, 2012 at 00:56 | Report abuse |
    • loverpoint

      One thing the Duggar star of 19 kids and counting can't remember is how many times she performed oral sex while barefoot and pregnant.

      August 18, 2012 at 01:13 | Report abuse |
  2. Whatthe

    How the frak does the CDC get this information? What a complete load of baloney.

    August 17, 2012 at 20:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brian

      If you had read the article (and comprehended it) before commenting, you would know how they got this information. I'm not sure whether to be impressed by your short attention span or your lack of reading skills.

      August 17, 2012 at 23:23 | Report abuse |
    • adasd

      "load of baloney" <–thats the problem

      August 17, 2012 at 23:23 | Report abuse |
  3. Kernal Angus

    And the survey takers swallowed that? seems like a bunch of bunk because guys want a Hummer and girls love slurpees.

    August 17, 2012 at 20:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kellym

      Swallowing was not asked about in the survey.

      August 17, 2012 at 21:13 | Report abuse |
    • Maxwell Mann

      Swallowing: what a terrible omission from the study!

      August 18, 2012 at 00:25 | Report abuse |
  4. lilbit

    I do not believe this crap...

    August 17, 2012 at 20:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. whitecrest57

    They must have only surveyed the ugly girls....

    August 17, 2012 at 20:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kellym

      How do you know that, Whitecrest? Did you get a call?

      August 17, 2012 at 21:14 | Report abuse |
    • pat from central oregon

      and the very, very ugly boys.

      August 17, 2012 at 23:18 | Report abuse |
  6. ccw

    I'm a baby boomer and I have to laugh at the teens I know who insist having oral sex (and super heavy petting) is NOT having sex and they are still virgins...I tell them just because they do everything but "go all the way" does not mean they are still virgins

    August 17, 2012 at 20:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kellym

      Uh, CCW... I think you need a refresher course in the Birds and Bees.Haha. Sex = intercourse. All the other stuff is sexual activity, not sex.

      August 17, 2012 at 21:09 | Report abuse |
    • rob0rah

      Kelly- gee, that's what Slick Willy said!

      August 17, 2012 at 22:11 | Report abuse |
    • JustMe

      Then why is it called oral 'sex' and not oral 'sexual activity'?

      August 18, 2012 at 00:53 | Report abuse |
    • Carilo

      JustMe didn't pay attention in sex ed. If you haven't boinked, you're still a virgin. So you can run all the bases, but if you don't go home you are a VIRGIN. Wow, you people are either idiots. Or you've never gotten any. lmao

      August 18, 2012 at 00:59 | Report abuse |
  7. Kellym

    And just to be clear, the definition of virgin is someone who has never had sexual intercourse.

    August 17, 2012 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Horn dog

    Can you tell me what girls still want to??

    August 17, 2012 at 21:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. anonymous

    Instead of 1/3 engage in oral sex by 17, the headline should have been 2/3 do not engage in oral sex by 17 then it would'nt seem bad to everyone...damn liberal media always upsetting the conservatives

    August 17, 2012 at 21:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kellym

      Yet your always here reading the "liberal media." Hahahaha.

      August 17, 2012 at 21:19 | Report abuse |
    • Dave A

      Are you kidding? The media is corporat- conservative.. All about sensational news. Very little real stuff

      August 17, 2012 at 21:35 | Report abuse |
    • Iknow

      Yea, cnn=conservative news network, abc=american broadcasting conservatives, nbc=national broadcasting conservatives
      stupid conservatives think the media is liberal just cause fox says so.

      August 17, 2012 at 22:37 | Report abuse |
  10. Overseer

    Damn, this is the most deppressing news EVER!!!

    August 17, 2012 at 21:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kellym

      If someone sucked you, would it cheer you up?

      August 17, 2012 at 21:20 | Report abuse |
    • JustMe

      Why, are you getting oral sex from teens?

      August 18, 2012 at 00:54 | Report abuse |
    • JustMe

      I am a pathetic loser.

      August 18, 2012 at 01:01 | Report abuse |
  11. Seth

    So when they do these "surveys", why have teens, particularly in my large high school, never taken a part of these? I mean, the US is a big place, and having a small sample compared to the rest of America makes these results not as reliable. To whoever wrote this, I recommend you to take a bit more out of your time to also survey areas where the population isn't that dense.

    August 17, 2012 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ejsdy

      Seth, you're an idiot. Read up on statistics and polling. How do you think all the polling companies are so accurate in their election surveys? Do you think they survey every voter? Haha. They survey 500 to 2000 people in the entire country.

      August 18, 2012 at 01:13 | Report abuse |
    • Ejsdy

      Sorry, I shouldn't have called you an idiot. You're still a kid. But read up on those things and you'll see how they find out what a lot of people think based on a just a small sample of people.

      August 18, 2012 at 01:18 | Report abuse |
    • cmunch2007

      The truth is, oral sex is in full swing and is the preference of those under 18, It's reality. Where this study comes from, who knows. They just don't ask the right questions of the right people.

      August 18, 2012 at 02:53 | Report abuse |
  12. Doozy

    Oral sex is great, just gotta throw her on a fire hydrant for a couple of hours. Clean em up a bit.

    August 17, 2012 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. MotoJB

    I grew up in the wrong generation... 😉

    August 17, 2012 at 21:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Dirty Stuart

    Maybe they're moving forward to anal sex and felching.

    August 17, 2012 at 21:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ChurnTheNews

      and bung hole tats

      August 17, 2012 at 21:27 | Report abuse |
  15. ChurnTheNews

    As a woman, you would fired so fast if you don't.

    August 17, 2012 at 21:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Omar

    High schools should distribute Saran wrap to all students.

    August 17, 2012 at 21:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. bob

    "Good job" to the head surveyors, Neil & Bob, who were blown away by the results.

    August 17, 2012 at 21:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. rad666

    You know why they called him Oral Roberts don't you?

    August 17, 2012 at 21:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Creflo Dollar

      Because his parents would have been embarrassed to name him Anal Roberts.

      August 19, 2012 at 16:56 | Report abuse |
  19. tekctrl

    "We need to make sure that young people have the skills to negotiate what they do and don’t want to do in sexual relationships, as well as education about and access to condoms and birth control so that they can protect themselves from STDs and pregnancy and remain healthy," This will NEVER get past the "Just Say No" people. They have too much invested in denial.

    August 17, 2012 at 21:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. jooooo

    This is ridiculous study, like what teen would admit to adults what they are doing sexually, of course they are gonna lie if they had oral

    August 17, 2012 at 22:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Dave

    Teens have been wanting to have sex as long as there have been sex and teens. Nothing has really changed in centuries

    August 17, 2012 at 22:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. But...!

    http://web.archive.org/web/20041126040807/http://homepage.mac.com/nikkienikks/iblog/C294808266/E910814554/Media/cnn.html

    August 17, 2012 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. JeffinIL

    Sex kills until you're 18.

    August 17, 2012 at 22:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Al

    There are not many teens who willingly admit to any sexual activity or drug/alcohol usage. These surveys are all worthless.

    August 17, 2012 at 22:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. oldenoughtoknowbetter

    Conservatives think sex ed/health ed turns kids on too much so it's better to keep them ignorant. Maybe they think mammagrams and pap tests are sexy too, and that's why they want to shut down Planned Parenthood.

    August 17, 2012 at 22:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Jerry

    10 years ago I worked with a lot of high school kids and, according to them, anal sex was the #1 way girls kept their boyfriends happy while retaining their "virginity".

    August 17, 2012 at 23:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JustMe

      That's even more depressing. It's always about 'keeping him happy'.

      August 18, 2012 at 00:56 | Report abuse |
    • JustMe

      I haven't learned how to shut up and keep my stupid comments to myself.

      August 18, 2012 at 01:02 | Report abuse |
  27. WOW

    they clearly didn't survey the gay folks.

    August 17, 2012 at 23:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Emily

    This is not a new activity CDC.

    August 17, 2012 at 23:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. mikie

    hey cnn, how `bout` a story on loraina bobbett or linda lovelace-deep throat?

    August 17, 2012 at 23:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. jeremy

    this is lame. most kids are not honest and upfront about these things. come on now...

    August 17, 2012 at 23:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. mikie

    maybe we could hold a cotest to get better results from than what the cdc gives us.

    August 17, 2012 at 23:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. mikie

    what do the ladies say?

    August 17, 2012 at 23:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Osama

    since when can you get HIV from oral sex???

    August 17, 2012 at 23:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. DRL

    If it feels good and hurts no one, DO IT!

    August 17, 2012 at 23:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Ghetto Mike

    Dem hoes be sucking it fo free, dawg

    August 17, 2012 at 23:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. papa

    Once again, we have failed to adequately enlighten our youth for life in the real world

    August 18, 2012 at 00:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. papa

    Somewhere, there is a researcher at the Center For Disease Control who is getting paid with your tax dollars to track and compile this information

    August 18, 2012 at 00:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ed gein

      Jealousy will get you nowhere.

      August 18, 2012 at 03:30 | Report abuse |
  38. Atheist4Evr

    Just remember, kids, you can't get preggers having buttsecks either.

    August 18, 2012 at 00:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. blinky

    This is just one study. I find it hard to believe that practices and preferences have changed all that much over the decades. Discussion is more straightforward now, but people and movies used to get the same ideas across by codes that were understood by everyone.

    This is also the first I've heard that oral raises the risk for cancer. Does this have to do with technique or fluid? The article was too bashful to say. If it is technique, maybe people can learn a new way that minimizes cancer risk? So we can keep the oral (please).

    August 18, 2012 at 00:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jerry

      Binky, it's because HPV (genital warts) can be transmitted by genital/oral contact and HPV is linked to several cancers of the mouth and throat. Additionally, persons with weak/compromised immune systems can develop "warts" in their esophagus and/or respiratory system that can eventually prove fatal.

      August 18, 2012 at 00:29 | Report abuse |
    • blinky

      Thanks for that information. I guess this means be extra cautious with HPV.

      August 18, 2012 at 00:42 | Report abuse |
  40. Geoff

    How much do researchers for this kind of study get paid? And how does one get hired? I want to watch, for purposes of research of course.

    August 18, 2012 at 00:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. blinky

    It wouldn't surprise me if, after the "sexual revolution" came in, there was a new but small cohort which did oral many, many thousands of times, a lot more than the average, and this skewed the cancer rate. I'm not thinking of gays, but people who maybe got a little carried away being "liberated" and did it with anyone and all the time.

    August 18, 2012 at 00:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. electric cigarette

    of course like your web-site but you have to test the spelling on quite a few of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very troublesome to tell the reality on the other hand I'll definitely come again again.

    August 18, 2012 at 00:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. jim

    I am really blown away by all this. Or, I guess I mean I am NOT blown away, or am not GOING to get blown away? The whole thing is just screwed- or, er, maybe thats what they are saying.
    I am SO confused

    August 18, 2012 at 01:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Jeff in San Diego

    Proof that the youth are getting dumber and dumber.

    August 18, 2012 at 02:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. RaunchyTalk

    Again....again...mainstream media ALWAYS leaves out anal. That's the BEST!

    August 18, 2012 at 03:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. sereny

    That is by far thee stupidest thing I have ever read trying to pass itself off as a truth.

    August 18, 2012 at 03:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ed gein

      Tight-@ssed and repressed. I like it!

      August 18, 2012 at 03:28 | Report abuse |
  47. ed gein

    Yeah, but how many teens are taking it up the @ss? Tell me that.

    August 18, 2012 at 03:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ted bundy

      Yeah, and where can I find them?

      August 19, 2012 at 16:59 | Report abuse |
  48. Steve

    Somewhere Bill Clinton's lower lip is guivering in disappointment.

    There goes is legacy.

    August 18, 2012 at 04:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Autumn

    Who cares

    August 18, 2012 at 04:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. FONSEKA

    //////////////////////////////////////////

    NEXT TIME MAKE SURE TO PROMOTE WEARING A CONDOM IN THE MOUTH WHEN HAVING ORAL SEX.

    /////////////////////////////////////////

    August 18, 2012 at 04:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Max

      @FONSEKA, I assume you mean "dental dam," not "condom".

      While, I suspect, you thought your comment cute, there is more truth to your words than you realize.

      Cheers.

      August 18, 2012 at 06:37 | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Well this news just sucks !

      August 18, 2012 at 08:53 | Report abuse |
    • IndianaGreg

      @Joe – Well played sir. +10 Internets to you.

      August 18, 2012 at 09:41 | Report abuse |
    • Salty Bill

      Actually, you can use a device called a Dental Dam.

      August 18, 2012 at 12:01 | Report abuse |
    • Porcche

      It's getting really nasty down there. Maggots, HPV, you name it.

      It's not as fresh as it used to be.

      Don't judge down there by the face, faces are deceiving.

      August 18, 2012 at 12:29 | Report abuse |
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