Oral Sex Common Among U.S. Teens

CDC Survey Collects Data on Sex Lives of Young Americans

Sept. 15, 2005 -- Many teens have had oral sex, and a lot of adults who've had sex with someone of the same sex don't consider themselves homosexual, according to the CDC.

A 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.

Oral Sex Common Among 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. Oral sex was also common.

More than a third of males aged 15-17 reported having had vaginal sex. In addition, 28% reported giving oral sex to a female and 40% reported receiving oral sex from a female.

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.

Among females aged 15-17, 39% report having had vaginal sex, 30% report giving oral sex to a male, and 38% report receiving oral sex from a male. 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% of males and 11% of females aged 15-17).

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

Same-Sex Partners for Teens

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

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

Findings for Men

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

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

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

Virtually all men aged 25-44 had had vaginal intercourse (97%). Most had had oral sex with a woman (90%). 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.

Key Findings for Women

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

Just over one in 10 women (11%) 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.

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%) of men aged 15-44 said they'd gotten an HIV test at some point in their lives. So did 55% of women of the same age.

Fewer people noted recent HIV tests. About 15% of men and 17% 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% of women report ever having a sexually transmitted infection or pelvic inflammatory disease. Among men, 7% had been treated for a sexually transmitted infection other than HIV.

Condom Use

Overall, about 40% of men reported using a condom the last time they had sex. But among women, only 22% 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% called themselves homosexual, 1.8% called themselves bisexual, nearly 4% selected "something other," and about 2% didn't answer.

Among women, 90% called themselves heterosexual, 1.3% called themselves homosexual, 2.8% selected "something other," and 1.8% 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%) who had ever had sexual contact with a man and nearly two-thirds (65%) 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% of both groups. About 3% to 4% of both groups didn't answer that question.

Show Sources

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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