STD clinics in Baltimore, Maryland have reported a significant increase in the numbers of teenagers and young adults that have engagied in oral sex and anal intercourse over the past decade.
Dr. Emily Erbelding from Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center presented the current study findings at the 2006 National STD Prevention Conference sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She reports that she and her colleagues found that over the last decade the prevalence of self-reported oral sex in the previous 90 days doubled among males (from 16 percent to 32 percent) and more than doubled among females (from 14 percent to 38 percent).
Erbelding has also reported an increase in rectal sex among young women, "but it was a lot less common than oral sex."
The reasons for oral sex cited by most teens include pressure, love, lust and pragmatism. While few teens (21%) say they had oral sex for the first time because they wanted to be more popular or to be accepted, 76% said they did so because the other person wanted to.
Teens also say they had oral sex for the first time because they met the right person (71%), to satisfy a sexual desire (70%), so they didn't have to worry about pregnancy (68%), or because they were curious (64%). Half (49%) say the first time they had oral sex they did so because they wanted to remain virgins.
Several clinical studies have associated oral sex with several infections, including gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis and the human papillomavirus that has been linked to cervical cancer. Although condoms and other forms of contraception can be used to decrease the health risks of oral sex few teens use them.
Erbelding warns that, 'Clinicians need to routinely ask their adolescent and young adult patients about the full range of sexual behaviors and educate young people in general about what the relative risks are for different types of STDs for various sexual behaviors.'