CDC: Oral Sex Common Among U.S. Teens

Published September 16, 2005

| WebMD

A government survey on the sexual experiences of young Americans found that oral sex is a common practice among U.S. teens, the Centers for Disease Control announced Thursday.

According to the CDC survey, 28 percent of males age 15-17 reported giving oral sex to a female and 40 percent reported receiving oral sex from a female. Among females aged 15-17, 30 percent report giving oral sex to a male, and 38 percent report receiving oral sex from a male.

The CDC survey collected data on the sexual experiences of Americans aged 15-44. More than 12,500 people were interviewed in person for the survey in 2002.

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The Sex Lives of Teens

Nearly half of 15- to 17-year-old males and females reported no sexual contact with another person. Most of their sexually active peers had had vaginal sex, but oral sex was also common.

More than a third of males aged 15-17 reported having had vaginal sex. Among females, 39 percent report having had vaginal sex.

For men aged 18 to 19, two-thirds reported having vaginal sex. About half report giving oral sex to a woman, and two-thirds report receiving oral sex from a woman.

By age 18-21, the percentage of women who had had vaginal sex was similar to those who had had oral sex.

Some teens reported having oral sex but not vaginal sex (13 percent of males and 11 percent of females aged 15-17).

Those figures were much lower -- about 3 percent -- for men and women in their early 20s. By then, most men and women have had vaginal sex, the CDC notes.

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Some teens have sex with both males and females, the survey shows.

Nearly 6 percent of female teens reported having had both male and female sex partners in the last year. So did about 1 percent of male teens.

The wording of the questions asked of males may partly explain those differences, according to the CDC. The survey also shows that fewer older women reported having male and female partners in the last year.

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Findings for Men

Most men (63 percent) report having one female sexual partner in the past year. But 18 percent reported having sex with two or more women in the past year.

Nearly 6 percent said they had ever had oral sex with a man. Almost 4 percent said they had ever had anal sex with a man.

About 3 percent said they had had a male sex partner in the past year, and 1 percent noted male and female partners in the past year.

Virtually all men aged 25-44 had had vaginal intercourse (97 percent). Most had had oral sex with a woman (90 percent). About four in 10 said they’d had anal sex with a woman.

Men in their 30s and early 40s reported having six to eight female sex partners in their lifetime.

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Key Findings for Women

More than two-thirds of women said they’d had only one male partner in the past year (68 percent).

Just over one in 10 women (11 percent) said they’d ever had a sexual experience of any kind with another woman.

Women in their 30s and early 40s reported having an average of about four male sex partners in their lifetime.

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HIV Testing, Sexually Transmitted Infections

More women than men reported having ever had an HIV test. That could be due to screening during pregnancy, the CDC notes.

Nearly half (47 percent) of men aged 15-44 said they’d gotten an HIV test at some point in their lives. So did 55 percent of women of the same age.

Fewer people noted recent HIV tests. About 15 percent of men and 17 percent of women noted an HIV test in the past year (apart from blood donations).

HIV testing was more common among men who have sex with men.

About 17 percent of women report ever having a sexually transmitted infection or pelvic inflammatory disease. Among men, 7 percent had been treated for a sexually transmitted infection other than HIV.

Condom Use

Overall, about 40 percent of men reported using a condom the last time they had sex. But among women, only 22 percent said their male partner had used a condom in their last sexual encounter. The report doesn’t reconcile that difference.

Condoms were more commonly used by men at higher risk for sexually transmitted infections. They include male teens, homosexual and bisexual men, and men who had ever had sex with a man.

White men were less likely than blacks or Hispanics to report using a condom. Black women were more likely than whites or Hispanics to note their male partner’s condom use.

Sexual Orientation

Participants who were at least 18 were asked how they defined their sexual orientation. Their answers:

Nine out of 10 men called themselves heterosexual, 2.3 percent called themselves homosexual, 1.8 percent called themselves bisexual, nearly 4 percent selected “something other,” and about 2 percent didn’t answer.

Among women, 90 percent called themselves heterosexual, 1.3 percent called themselves homosexual, 2.8 percent selected “something other,” and 1.8 percent didn’t answer.

Many men and women who report having ever had sexual contact with someone of the same sex chose “heterosexual” to describe themselves.

That included almost half of men (49 percent) who had ever had sexual contact with a man and nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of women who had ever had sexual contact with a woman.

Black and Hispanic men were more likely to choose “something other” to describe their sexual orientation. That was true of about 7 percent of both groups. About 3 percent to 4 percent of both groups didn’t answer that question.

By Miranda Hitti, reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

SOURCES: CDC: “Sexual Behavior and Selected Health Measures: Men and Women 15-44 Years of Age, United States, 2002.” News release, CDC.

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