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 (653 Responses)
  1. Mike

    In other news: mind your damn business.

    August 18, 2012 at 23:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hanks Bar Orlando

      Mike if you think it's disgusting, you're either doing it wrong or you've never had it done right to you... I'm a master at it. But only for those 30 and over.

      August 19, 2012 at 10:31 | Report abuse |
    • Lilly

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      November 14, 2012 at 12:37 | Report abuse |
  2. SAinSA

    They must have discovered Tina Fey's controversial advice book for teenage girls: "Your Mouth Can't Get Pregnant," since there aren't any new Twilight books out.

    August 18, 2012 at 23:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. the_dude

    Front page of CNN.com? Editor must be a graduate of Penn State...weirdo

    August 18, 2012 at 23:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Rhyhb

    In other news, married couples are having less sex also....

    August 18, 2012 at 23:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Meh

      Hey, thats not my fault. I asked my old lady if I could go out and screw other broads but she said no....so its not my fault there is less happening

      August 20, 2012 at 12:38 | Report abuse |
  5. Grace

    Surveys of sexual practices are notoriously misleading. Teens, especially, will answer according to what they think is the norm, not necessarily their own experience/practice.

    August 19, 2012 at 01:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. flash mann

    less oral more anal.

    August 19, 2012 at 01:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Tina Fey

    Your mouth can't get pregnant.

    August 19, 2012 at 02:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • monica clinton

      Oral sex must be good! Ask the experts , Bill and Monica.

      August 19, 2012 at 22:18 | Report abuse |
  8. Tom

    I'm so sick of out-dated, non-sensical information from the CDC. The only alleged transmission of HIV through oral sex was by a sex worker with open sores in her mouth who allegedly contracted HIV from a "John." How would a sex worker know exactly who gave it to her and during which sexual act? Nearly every HIV/AIDS organization with CURRENT (i.e., the past decade) information acknowledges that there is not one single case of transmission of HIV to a person receiving oral sex and only "alleged" or "suspected" transmission (other than the ridiculous incident noted above) of a person contracting HIV from performing oral sex. Obviously, we all have an obligation to prevent the transmission of HIV, but to state that oral sex can transmit HIV (especially outside the ridiculous and apparently single or very few incidents over 30 years and 500,000,000+ transmissions) leaves one with the impression that saliva can transmit HIV, which it absolutely cannot. HIV cannot survive in saliva, and even CDC acknowledges that saliva is not a bodily fluid known to carry or transmit HIV. Thus, I really think it's time to update CDC's information on HIV and to stop giving "half-truths" about HIV that only fuel unnecessary angst and hysteria. Oh yeah, and it's also time to stop pretending that the world cannot cure HIV, especially since one man has already been cured (albeit through a costly and cutting-edge bone marrow transplant with donor marrow containing a rare genetic marker). The point is, though, that HIV is curable and one has to wonder if the leaders of our sex-phobic species simply wants people to remain indefinitely afraid of engaging in one of the most pleasurable and natural acts of human existence.

    August 19, 2012 at 02:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DRL

      So there!

      August 19, 2012 at 03:14 | Report abuse |
    • Martin

      You are so misinformed! HIV is not curable. It's containable with a mix of drugs, but there is no cure (and who wants to have to take a bunch of pills everyday and suffer the side effects of powerful medicine?) And no one knows how long the drugs are going to stay ahead of the mutating virus and continue to be able to block the progression to full-blown AIDS. And while saliva may not transmit HIV, semen definitely does! You need to get your facts straight.

      August 19, 2012 at 08:25 | Report abuse |
    • Hollycow

      If the government wants to save money they should cut the CDC. What have they ever done for the American people except give them incomplete or inaccurate information. I think their only purpose is to try justify their existence.

      August 19, 2012 at 09:09 | Report abuse |
    • jojo

      Ok, saliva does not transmit HIV. If the infected person is the mouth end, no problem–assuming no bleeding gums, mouth sores, or other issues. But if the infected person is the other end, those bodily fluids ARE proven to carry the HIV virus and can be passed along to the person who is uninfected. So can genital lesions and other such issues. So sorry, Tom, you are incorrect. Oral sex most certainly is a risk factor for transmission of HIV. It is also a risk factor for transmission of HSV–which is not always "visible" at the time transmission is possible, and is also NOT curable. HPV, which causes cancers as stated in the article is passed along. Those alone are bad enough if you are ignoring the (fortunately) now less common STDs which tend to be more "visible" when present and are more likely to be avoided by anyone with any sense with just one look. The problem is less likely to be among consenting adults who make each other aware of the risks, but more likely between two people who are embarassed, afraid, or unwilling to tell they have something infectious, or by a person who may not even know they have the disease (quite common actually, with HSV and HPV). So if you want to educate people, be educated first.

      August 19, 2012 at 09:51 | Report abuse |
    • e

      Wow you are in some severe denial.
      The reason the CDC has more warnings is because science does not bow to your wishes and convenience. You fining facts inconvenient does not mean the facts are wrong.
      AIDS is not cured. Not even close. You saying this only proves that you are ignorant.

      August 20, 2012 at 09:02 | Report abuse |
  9. DRL

    If teens were encouraged to engage in sexual behavior, perhaps they'd stop being such irresponsible little twits.

    August 19, 2012 at 03:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jojo

      Not likely. They are encouraged to clean up their own messes (i.e. dirty laundry, dishes) and given keys to a car and encouraged to drive safely without texting or speeding or whatever, yet they don't do that responsibly. But sounded good at the start.

      August 19, 2012 at 09:52 | Report abuse |
  10. indianazombiesquadu1

    chicks with braces rock!

    August 19, 2012 at 03:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • .

      They can give you tetanus.

      August 19, 2012 at 06:36 | Report abuse |
    • painfulrectalitch

      Even better, old ladies with no teeth.

      August 19, 2012 at 07:46 | Report abuse |
  11. Pollito

    I'm sure this study has many holes in it. For instance, I've read part of this study from another source and it completely ignores intercourse between same-sex teen partners.

    August 19, 2012 at 03:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sini

      I would go with black or silver shoes About your hair, you can wear it nartually wavy if the wedding is during the day or up if it is at night to make it look more formal.

      November 16, 2012 at 03:27 | Report abuse |
  12. Ben Fukinov

    This study BLOWS!

    August 19, 2012 at 06:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chinese Broccoli

      I thought it SUCKED

      August 20, 2012 at 19:59 | Report abuse |
  13. Tom Rodgers

    So, the number of kid's engaging in oral sex are going down?

    August 19, 2012 at 06:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • .

      Ha ha ha. Going down.

      I get it.

      Good one.

      August 19, 2012 at 06:41 | Report abuse |
  14. .

    How exactly do they get this information and how do they know it's reliable?

    How many kids tell the pollster to mind their own fing business?

    Same thing with the political polls that say the country is skewed to the left.

    August 19, 2012 at 06:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Realdirect

    That's not true...white chicks LOVE!!! To do it...

    August 19, 2012 at 07:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Carl

    There should be a law that should applied on all teenage kids-remain a VIRGIN until age 21. The would be a hoot!

    August 19, 2012 at 07:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Gino

    I can't believe people fund such "studies." We all did it at some point so what is so difficult to understand? Perhaps these researchers aren't getting any.

    August 19, 2012 at 08:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • e

      You do not understand why researchers study the transmission of potentially deadly diseases?

      August 20, 2012 at 09:04 | Report abuse |
  18. Pookieamos

    And this qualifies for news ? What the hell is wrong with this picture , are we so depraved as a society , this is considered news ? Hell , our country has been taken over by a regime of radicals, who is deminshing America, Obama IS bankrupting your country and you wanna talk about oral sex ? I guarantee you , one day there will be nothing left of jobs, money, hope , electricity , maybe then have all the sex you want , but right now we need to save the American way of life !

    August 19, 2012 at 09:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ring, ring..... hello

      Sit down Francis

      August 19, 2012 at 10:20 | Report abuse |
    • e

      The American way of life is fine as long as people like you stop idealizing the past an pretending there was ever some golden age when in fact it was only golden for rich white men.

      August 20, 2012 at 09:06 | Report abuse |
    • John Q.

      You're right. One topic and one topic only. Every reporter working for CNN should be yammering on about politics. I'll make sure every conversation I have from this point until the election is about the president and how he's ruining your life (or at least you being told that).

      August 20, 2012 at 15:29 | Report abuse |
  19. LordMerlin

    Are they REALLY saying that oral sex has led to an increase in head and neck cancers??? They actually SAID that??? Now they are going to have a study that shows that intercourse between men and women increase the likelihoods of the woman getting pregnant. Frigging idiots!!!!!!!!!!

    August 19, 2012 at 09:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • miketofdal

      Government agencies only need APPEAR to be doing something – anything – to justify their budgets, and very existence, to a dumbed-down, fear-based citizen-ship.

      August 19, 2012 at 10:14 | Report abuse |
    • e

      Why does that upset you so much? Are you also shocked and appalled to find that smoking causes lung cancer?

      August 20, 2012 at 09:07 | Report abuse |
  20. outawork

    Cause half of them don't know what the word oral means.

    August 19, 2012 at 09:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Mike

    Try it with ice or Altoids...Yes, Altoids. 🙂

    August 19, 2012 at 09:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ladydi

      Altoids – done that. He LOVED it!!!!!

      August 21, 2012 at 07:26 | Report abuse |
  22. miketofdal

    Prolly 'cause they're doin' it in the butt, Bob.

    August 19, 2012 at 10:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. B

    Great use of tax payer dollars

    August 19, 2012 at 10:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • e

      You would rather NOT know how disease is spread?

      August 20, 2012 at 09:08 | Report abuse |
  24. Atheism is not healthy for children or other living things

    Deary me, I think I stumbled into the wrong section. Proven.

    August 19, 2012 at 17:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Meh

      Religion has been proven not to be healthy to a altar boys colon so its no better or worse than atheism

      August 20, 2012 at 12:30 | Report abuse |
  25. mark

    MTV must be telling teens its not cool anymore

    August 20, 2012 at 08:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. freelance

    Tea Party Sex

    August 20, 2012 at 09:25 | Report abuse | Reply
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      November 14, 2012 at 14:55 | Report abuse |
  27. Meh

    Why do oral when you can play colon pirate with the little broad?

    August 20, 2012 at 11:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Love Rhino

    Man there's nothing hotter than watching a young chick go down once she leanrs how to do it properly...tight little body bending over..../shiver

    August 20, 2012 at 11:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Eggs Are Good For You

    Poor things – they don't know what they are missing.

    August 20, 2012 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. TheBigSarge

    well, that sucks!!!!!

    August 20, 2012 at 16:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. TheBigSarge

    not a total waste of taxpayer money. http://www.billyboyclinton.org has the names and addresses of those who still do.


    August 20, 2012 at 16:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. showmethemoney

    Can you repost the link. I can't get it to come up.


    August 20, 2012 at 16:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. wheresthebeff

    It did not work for me, either. Do I need to put in HTTPS or just HTTP?

    Thank you.

    August 20, 2012 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. jimdog33

    Oral sex is when you talk about it, right?

    August 20, 2012 at 17:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Fubao

    Health lessons for the teenagers

    August 20, 2012 at 19:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Keep Fear Alive

    actually they just took a few test patients that were hiv positive who were responding well to medication and when a bane marrow transpant was done, they no longer showing any evidence of HIV ... sorry folks, but this is HUGE !!

    August 21, 2012 at 14:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Sarcasm

    And yet there elected officials trying to saying no birth control and no sex education....wonderful. Great idea there.

    August 22, 2012 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. soulsoldseparately

    This highly important study was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control. Isn't that a Federal government agency, covered by Federal tax dollars? I hope that tax money isn't paying for something as inane and as meaningless as determining how much oral sex teenagers are having. Who benefits from this study, other than the actual researchers, who probably celebrated the mere fact that they were able to convince *other* imbeciles that this study was worth funding?

    August 23, 2012 at 10:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. College Student

    I can't stand how these things are worded, "but the numbers are still high." Why don't we focus on the fact the more teenagers are being conscious of STDS rather than condemning them for engaging in natural behaviors? As long as both parties are consenting and safe, let the numbers be as high as they want to be.

    September 25, 2012 at 19:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Anne

    Was this done by race? I'm guessing the results have huge variances by race...

    October 29, 2012 at 22:13 | Report abuse | Reply
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    December 24, 2013 at 09:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Telus Mobile

    That's odd. I thought oral sex amongst teenagers would be on the rise.

    July 11, 2014 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. preeti00das

    Oral sex means using your mouth and tongue to stimulate your partners’ genitals , it is a vital part of foreplay .It may transmitted the STD that is sexual transmitted diseases .

    September 12, 2016 at 07:45 | Report abuse | Reply
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