A new research has revealed that oral sex increases the likelihood of intercourse among adolescents.
The study conducted by researchers at UCSF and UC Merced found that half of teens, who have oral sex during the ninth grade will have intercourse by the end of the 11th grade, and most sexually active teenagers will begin engaging in oral sex and sexual intercourse within the same six-month period.
The data, explain the researchers, yield important information about adolescent sexual development and the need to deliver more comprehensive sex education programs.
"Health care providers, health educators and parents need to not be shy about discussing oral sex with teens. I see most of the health policies out there and guidelines for preventive services talking about sex generally, but they do not specify oral sex. That is an important distinction because teens don't consider oral sex to be sex, and many are not aware of the risks involved," said, senior author of the study and a professor of pediatrics at UCSF, Bonnie Halpern-Felsher.
Anna Song, first author of the study and an assistant professor of psychological sciences at UC Merced, explained, "Our study demonstrates that through its relationship with intercourse, oral sex contributes to the total risk associated with sexual activity among teens, including sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Understanding teen sexual behaviour is so important because incorrect assumptions about how and why teens engage in sex can undermine interventions that aim to curb these negative outcomes."
The researchers followed more than 600 students at two northern California high schools from the ninth grade through the end of 11th grade.
Among teens who reported becoming sexually active during the three-year study, most said they had intercourse for the first time after or within the same six-month period of initiating oral sex.
Teens who had engaged in oral sex by the end of ninth grade were at the highest risk of having sexual intercourse during high school contrary to adolescents who delayed oral sex until the end of 11th grade had only a 16 percent chance of having intercourse by the end of that school year.
The research is published online in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.