What was once seen as a practice of porn stars, prostitutes and nymphomaniacs, oral sex is now on the rise among teens. Parents, understand this message loud and clear: your teen may be having oral sex and possibly even anal sex. As a matter of fact, reports show teens are having more oral sex than intercourse.
A plethora of reasons could explain why teens are drawn to the act, but experts feel that there’s a certain gray area that surrounds oral sex , as some teens don’t consider it actual sex and believe they are still virgins.
“They see it as foreplay as opposed to full fledged sex. That’s why it’s so difficult to educate children,” said Carol Juergensen Sheets, psychotherapist, life coach and host of the “Sex, Love and Relationships” show on WIBC-FM (93.1).
“Honestly, a lot of people in school don’t really see it (oral sex) as a bad thing,” added Katie Wickersham a 16-year-old at Lawrence North High School. “They just look at it as a way to have sex and still have fun without getting pregnant or catching something. Some people think it’s not ‘real’ sex though, just another way to fool around.”
Whether one believes penetration is sex or kissing is sex, Juergensen Sheets states defining the details of sex depends on personal opinion. She believes oral sex is sex, but not all sexuality experts agree.
To further complicate the boundaries of sex, oral sex is also becoming more common among teens due to changes in cultural norms and sexual taboos. Not only have teens become desensitized to oral sex due to increased exposure, including porn, they are also having it in public places such as parties, classrooms, and on school buses.
Teens participating in oral sex more than intercourse is shocking in itself, but what may also come as a surprise is that girls are having fellatio (girls giving oral sex to boys) more than boys are having cunnilingus (boys giving oral sex to girls).
“You can be more discreet about it. Then there’s the issue of girls wanting to be loved by their boyfriend and they’ll do anything it takes to stay in that relationships,” said Catherine Sherwood, associate clinical professor, department of applied health science, Indiana University.
Juergensen Sheets further states that when it comes to race, African-American boys and men are less likely to have oral sex than their white counterparts. Boys that are having oral sex are also more likely to do it after having penetration sex with a girl.
Peer pressure may be another factor as to why teens are having oral sex, but when it comes to anal sex, there’s not as much research that indicates teens are having anal sex. There have been increasing media messages surrounding anal sex that experts believe teens may have to face in the future. Currently, teens either aren’t having anal sex or aren’t admitting to having it.
Despite the frequency of teens having oral or anal sex, they should understand the health risks involved. According to Sherwood, almost any sexually transmitted infections (STI) can be contracted orally or anally such as HPV, gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia, anal cancer, anal HPV or HIV through open sores or wounds in the mouth. Those who have anal sex are also at higher risk for HIV. Teens are also warned of contracting STIs through tongue or genitalia piercings.
“Anal sex can be a very dangerous sexual practice. If a male ejaculates, it goes directly into the blood stream through the anal opening. They are much more likely to spread disease,” added Juergensen Sheets. “Also, a young female’s body is still developing. They are not physically able to have anal intercourse without tearing.”
Sherwood states she is not an advocate of teen sex but reminds teens that there is protection against diseases by using flavored condoms and dental dams for oral sex and suggest when having anal sex, the male should wear two condoms.
Parents know that oral and anal sex are out there, but experts strongly encourage them to open Pandora’s box and include the two practices in their regular sexual dialogue. It may be uncomfortable, but most teens relate sex with pregnancy and not health, relationship or moral risks.
Some parents feel discussing oral and anal sex with their child gives them the green light to have sex, but experts also warn that delving deeply in the topic doesn’t equal condoning sex.
Parents should not only understand the changes in sexual trends but while Juergensen Sheets states no matter what kids call it, oral sex is still oral sex, Sherwood says parents should understand current terminology and how sex is viewed by teens.
Experts don’t want to paint a picture of oral and anal sex as bad, but urges parents to become educated about the practices and how it can affect their child.
“Whether it’s oral, anal or vaginal, sex is a good thing under the right circumstances. But teens aren’t emotionally and physically ready for some of the negative consequences that go along with it,” said Sherwood.