Risky Business: Oral Sex Leads to Intercourse for Teens

Filed under: In The News, Sex, Research Reveals: Teens

In "Juno," Ellen Page and Michael Cera play a couple who get pregnant after having sex for the first time. Credit: Karunpillai/Fox Searchlight

Here's another reason for terrified parents to lock their teenagers in their rooms: Most teens who engage in oral sex for the first time will have vaginal intercourse within six months, a new study finds.

All across the country, high schoolers who think they aren't having sex when they just use their mouths aren't hanging on to their chastity for that much longer, according to the study published in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. The study asked more than 600 high school students in California to report on their sexual experiences by filling out surveys twice a year, from the beginning of ninth grade, in 2002, to the end of 11th grade, in 2005.

The study is a wake-up call for parents who don't want to find themselves having the "I'm going to be a grandma" conversation. Among those who initiate oral sex between ninth and 10th grade, the researchers found that oral sex is significantly related to vaginal sex, Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, Ph.D, senior author of the study and a professor of pediatrics at the University of California San Francisco, tells CNN.

Magnifying the situation is teens' perception of what sex is or isn't, Halpern-Felsher tells CNN.

"Teens think oral sex is less risky (than intercourse) and they're right, it's not risk-free but it is less risky," she says. "But socially and emotionally, they're still being intimate."

Freshman and sophomore years appear to be the critical time period when teens initiate oral, then vaginal, sex, Halpern-Felsher tells the news site.

Specifically, initiating oral sex by the end of their freshman year in high school gave teens a 25 percent chance of initiating vaginal sex around the same time and a 50 percent chance of initiating intercourse by the end of their junior year, the study found.

Halpern-Felsher advises concerned parents to talk to their teens about oral sex and not focus solely on the risks associated with intercourse.

"We have a disadvantage as health professionals and parents when teens do not equate oral sex with sex," Halpern-Felher tells CNN. "They think the messages don't apply to them and we need to make it apply to them, we need to talk to them about oral sex."

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.