Oral Sex Comes First For Young People

Couple on the beach.

Oral sex seems to come before vaginal intercourse for many young people, according to new research.

In statistics from interviews with 13,500 people, the National Survey of Family Growth reported that more than half of people under 24 who have had oral sex did so before having vaginal intercourse.

"Traditionally, people tend to focus on vaginal intercourse, but they sort of forget about other types of sexual behavior," said lead author Anjani Chandra, a health scientist at the National Center for Health Statistics.

According to Bill Albert, chief program officer for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, these results may be misleading.

"What is 'before' -- an hour, or two days? My strong suspicion here is that sexual activity tends to co-occur . . . they're probably going to have vaginal sex shortly thereafter," Albert said. "For some young people, they're running the bases backwards. They used to go from more casual to more intimate, but that's not necessarily the case these days."

According to Jennifer Berman, director of the Berman Women's Wellness Center in Beverly Hills, California, its not surprising that young people engage in oral sex first, because its now a way to gain status among their peers.

"It often has to do with sexual education or the lack thereof," said Berman. "Young people don't perceive oral sex as sex and think they're still virgins if there's no penetration."

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