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 (708 Responses)
  1. Anomic Office Drone

    If that's true, I guess I was a teenager in the Golden Age.

    August 17, 2012 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • aces2jokers

      Me too lol

      August 17, 2012 at 16:03 | Report abuse |
  2. citizenUSA

    Interesting survey. Not a good article for serious comments though.

    August 17, 2012 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. TimberMeShivers

    Chuck Norris!

    August 17, 2012 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Billy

      ...should shave his beard when he goes down.

      August 17, 2012 at 14:51 | Report abuse |
    • BeaSSt

      Just call him 'Mr. Soggy Beard'.....

      August 17, 2012 at 16:27 | Report abuse |
  4. abujess

    Why do underage people have sex? Dont they have anything else resposible to do?

    August 17, 2012 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • i am a moron

      yes, because the 3 minutes a teenage boy lasts will totally take up so much of their precious time to do anything else productive, like school, sports, volunteering so their college resumes look better, etc......

      August 17, 2012 at 14:06 | Report abuse |
    • Tanklin

      Three minutes?? What the heck do you do for the other two minutes and thirty seconds??

      August 17, 2012 at 14:19 | Report abuse |
    • sbp

      If you don't know why, you must be a virgin.

      August 17, 2012 at 14:25 | Report abuse |
    • Jonathan

      Good sex requires more than 2 minutes bro.

      August 17, 2012 at 14:55 | Report abuse |
    • Ribb

      Are you kidding? You MAKE time for sex...

      August 17, 2012 at 15:40 | Report abuse |
    • tim

      nothing irresponsible about practicing safe sex...sounds like you probably had a really lame young adulthood.

      August 17, 2012 at 16:20 | Report abuse |
  5. scoto

    New survey finds more teens lying about when they had oral sex

    August 17, 2012 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • aces2jokers

      This seems more likely lol

      August 17, 2012 at 16:04 | Report abuse |
    • KWB

      Yeah...."80% for 24-year-olds" have engaged in oral sex? We know the at least 20% of the survey respondents are lying.

      August 17, 2012 at 16:36 | Report abuse |
  6. Grey

    Time to bring back Bill Clinton.

    August 17, 2012 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Doc Hollywood

    Riiight,, and they swore on the bible telling nothing but the truth...
    These surveys might just show that kids are less willing do disclose their sexual habits learning from the many sexting and social site disasters.

    August 17, 2012 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Do It

    Go for it, kids! Some think that pleasure is bad! Everything we do is risky, so why stop just sex?

    August 17, 2012 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. TheRandai

    I don't know......this story is a little hard to swallow.

    August 17, 2012 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • penguins42

      Yeah, it left a bad taste in my mouth too.

      August 17, 2012 at 14:51 | Report abuse |
    • m.patrick

      LOL!!!!! +10 to you, sir. Well done!

      August 17, 2012 at 15:38 | Report abuse |
    • Haha123

      I agree..... I cant quite put my hand on it but it sure seems like they are jerking us around. Ive thought long and hard about this issue to the point that my head feels like its going to explode but still cant come to any conclusions....no shocker there.

      August 17, 2012 at 16:01 | Report abuse |
    • Flabbagastah

      Spit it out, then.

      August 17, 2012 at 16:18 | Report abuse |
  10. Scrape

    Kinda like being married.

    August 17, 2012 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Super Duper

      Oral sex? What's that? Is that when you are asking your wife if you might have sex at some point this week?

      August 17, 2012 at 14:37 | Report abuse |
    • ZombieHubby

      Amen brother!

      August 17, 2012 at 14:55 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That’s why you don’t ask your wife.

      August 17, 2012 at 15:16 | Report abuse |
  11. Ed Simpkins

    So, oral sex causes mouth and face cancer?!

    August 17, 2012 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Professor Priest

      Yes. Yes it does. And masturbation kills kittens too so don't do that either.

      August 17, 2012 at 14:48 | Report abuse |
    • alloutnole

      No, they just tell you that so that they hopefully scare you from doing it.

      August 17, 2012 at 14:50 | Report abuse |
    • New Gawker

      guess all those guys with colon cancer should have known better.

      August 17, 2012 at 15:55 | Report abuse |
  12. Realityblowz

    From talking with the guys here at work, none of our kids desire sex anymore (sons anyway). They just want to play computer games online, and don't even want to go out and drink like we did. What is wrong with kids these days?

    August 17, 2012 at 14:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Billy

      Uh, they lie to their dads?

      August 17, 2012 at 14:49 | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      That's shy the birthrate is down in S. Korea.

      August 17, 2012 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
    • Phil (D.C.)

      Your kids are ugly, that's what's wrong.

      August 17, 2012 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
    • wassup

      Don't let 'em kid ya! They love it and can't get enough! Computer games and sexting and stuff is just spare time filler! LOL

      August 17, 2012 at 15:00 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Sorry Dad but the human sex drive is biological, not a trend. I for one miss all those conversations with my dad about banging chicks. /rolls eyes

      August 17, 2012 at 15:18 | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      When I was a teen, you could continue to play video games, while your girlfriend tended to your joystick's needs.

      August 17, 2012 at 15:48 | Report abuse |
  13. ComeBreakMe

    Thanks for the article CNN. It's nice to see that my hard earned tax dollars are going towards pointless research like this.

    August 17, 2012 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cja

      All these people who thing science and public health is "pointless". I wonder what they consider worth doing? Watching reality TV or re-programming ring tones on their phones?

      August 17, 2012 at 14:14 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @ cja
      Reading the bible of course… but only the few versus their pastor tells them to. Don’t want them to know too much now do we?

      August 17, 2012 at 15:20 | Report abuse |
  14. Meyer C. Dhoates

    Somebody had better come up with a solution to this decline or a lot of frustated people will be missing out on one of life's little pleasures.

    August 17, 2012 at 14:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. ComeBreakMe

    To Cja:

    Hey idiot. I'm all for science and research. Though, I could think of a few programs (like NASA for instance) that would take priority for research $$$ over research into "how often teenagers are having oral sex."

    August 17, 2012 at 14:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Failing to use the reply button and calling someone else and idiot. You sir just made me laugh out loud.

      August 17, 2012 at 15:23 | Report abuse |
  16. mytt robme

    Elect me and we will take away their condoms and other birth control!!! Elect me for more oral sex!!!!!

    August 17, 2012 at 14:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. paul

    -nothing that a little post-sex listerine won't cure!

    August 17, 2012 at 14:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • doughnuts

      But if you use it after intercourse it is going to stiiiiiiiiing!

      August 17, 2012 at 15:37 | Report abuse |
  18. john

    Oral sex causes head and neck cancer? That's really hilarious. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. ROFLOL.

    August 17, 2012 at 14:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hahahahahahahahah

      Only for republicans. You know.....the ones with their heads up their a$$es.

      August 17, 2012 at 14:40 | Report abuse |
  19. Liebster Welpe

    Pegging is the new oral sex

    August 17, 2012 at 14:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. blah9999

    But it's so good though. Plus no pregnancy. Support Oral!

    August 17, 2012 at 14:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Steve-O

    The opposite of oral sex is written sex.

    August 17, 2012 at 14:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • HandsOnApproach

      I like the hands on method.

      August 17, 2012 at 14:41 | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      There WILL be a quiz afterward. And a cuddle.

      August 17, 2012 at 14:51 | Report abuse |
    • wassup

      Yeah, they're doin' that too...it's called sexting. Just can't get enough of a good thing! No such thing as too much fun! LOL

      August 17, 2012 at 15:05 | Report abuse |
  22. Jamie

    Unfortunately, same goes for wives.

    August 17, 2012 at 14:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hahahahahahahahaha

      No. Your wife does just fine. Hahahahahhahahaahah

      August 17, 2012 at 14:43 | Report abuse |
  23. bhs

    This is downright shocking... Let me tell you about the good ole days back in the 80s. It was oral sex all around.

    August 17, 2012 at 14:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. TiredOfPaying

    Gahhh! That blows a hole in my business plan: I was making a pill to make a man's stuff taste like chocolate!

    August 17, 2012 at 14:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. phearis

    No, they're not. They're just sick of people asking them if they're doing it, so they lie and say no.

    August 17, 2012 at 14:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Nasty Nate

    Who cares, I started doing all kinds of sex at age 14. I would have started sooner, but it took me so long to find the right girl who would put out. That's just how teens are. Get with the program. I will say this though, I always wrapped up, and did my best to ensure I only messed with virgins. I didn't want a disease or a kid. I was terrified of those two things.

    August 17, 2012 at 14:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. wassup

    It's always good news to hear that our teens (and probably early teens, at that) are heavily into any and all sorts of sex! For years our culture has insisted that they are totally abstinate and virgins til marriage and appalled at the very thought of yucky ol' sex! LOL

    August 17, 2012 at 14:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. kurtinco

    My first thought when I read the headline "Fewer Teens Having Oral Sex" was...sucks for them.

    August 17, 2012 at 14:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • M.E.

      Well clearly they're not sucking anything.

      August 17, 2012 at 16:11 | Report abuse |
  29. HearTheTruth



    August 17, 2012 at 15:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Randy

    I am really disgusted as to what passes for news these days! Teens shouldn't be having sex anyway, oral or otherwise!

    August 17, 2012 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Samson

      I feel sorry for your childhood.

      August 17, 2012 at 19:15 | Report abuse |
  31. Randy

    How many servicemen died in Afghanistan today to protect your right to print a story like this, CNN?

    August 17, 2012 at 15:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ribb

      Unless you happen to live in Afghanistan, the Taliban were never a threat to free speech. Get some perspective.

      August 17, 2012 at 15:36 | Report abuse |
  32. Mojo

    Sex seems to take a bad rap, but if it wasn't for sex, I wouldn't be here today.

    August 17, 2012 at 15:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. A-Rod

    I worked with a girl who was from Iran. She told me that culturally regular sex before marriage was wrong but anal was allowed. She would not confirm or deny her experience.

    August 17, 2012 at 15:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Mike

    Who cares...what a bunch of morons for one to post an article about this and what a bunch of morons to debate it. CNN I'd think you were better than this but then again you are the biggest liberal supporter on the internet.

    August 17, 2012 at 15:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Ribb

    Now this sounds like a real tragedy....

    August 17, 2012 at 15:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. doughnuts

    Just give all teen girls a piece of wedding cake. That will stop all the oral sex.

    August 17, 2012 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Smarterest Human

    Uh-oh...looks like I will definitely be getting head and neck cancer...

    August 17, 2012 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. TJ

    Dude in the pic is about to score!

    August 17, 2012 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Josh

    The survey doesn't seem to address if teens are overall having less sex, or simply less oral sex (and more of other types of sex).

    Back when I was a teen, oral was the sex of choice since the girl remained physically a virgin.

    August 17, 2012 at 15:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Jack Johnson

    They're showing their cards; they're going all in!

    August 17, 2012 at 15:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. SoloLupo

    ",,, But from that very first look in your eyes
    I knew you and I had but one heart
    Only our bodies were apart
    That was so easy, so easy
    I had a taste of the real world
    When I went down on you, girl. ..." Lyrics from Miracles, Jefferson Starship 1975.

    August 17, 2012 at 15:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. New Gawker

    This story makes mom's rejoice and teen boys cry.

    August 17, 2012 at 15:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. frank

    now i miss my buddy even more.

    August 17, 2012 at 16:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. One and Done

    I don't always give girls orgasms......but when I do.........she spits it back out!

    August 17, 2012 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sam.I.am

      Now that´s funny!

      August 17, 2012 at 16:23 | Report abuse |
  45. aces2jokers

    Decline in oral sex? We are going to have an exponential increase in shootings. When sexually frustrated you tend to not think clearly.

    August 17, 2012 at 16:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. julie

    Makes me laugh that ppl get disgusted when a chef doesnt wash his hands after peeing, but are not grossed out by this stuff... its just cutting out the middle man, ie. the cooks hands. Pointed that out to my ex once and it completely changed his behavior. LOL

    August 17, 2012 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TheNazz2

      So, I guess it would be okay for the chef to spit in the food, since kissing isn't gross?

      August 17, 2012 at 21:07 | Report abuse |
  47. Jack 2


    August 17, 2012 at 16:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Mr, Hand

    What an awful time to be a teenager! Maybe ther's more anal now?

    August 17, 2012 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • john

      Yes. That's why Sandusky was so successful.

      August 17, 2012 at 16:55 | Report abuse |
  49. UncleJohn

    Better headline would have been, "Teen oral sex going down!"

    August 17, 2012 at 16:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. LOL

    We have less cunning lingquists coming of age. Sad.

    August 17, 2012 at 16:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jents71

      When asked as to why this decrease was prevelant, researchers found a positive correlation to the confusion created when men wear skinny jeans and look feminine, and the women around them have more male features, confounding teens as to which person they should be having oral sex with. They also found a gigantic decrease in oral sex with people that wear their pants below their waistline, citing that most teens figured "Those types of people must have stinky crotches they have to air out"

      August 17, 2012 at 18:09 | Report abuse |
    • Delphi

      This means that there was more oral sex under Bush.

      August 17, 2012 at 20:27 | Report abuse |
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