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Fewer teens have oral sex, but the act still leads to risky behavior

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released information about the rates of oral sex among teenagers between 2002 and 2010. The agency reported that fewer females are engaging in the risky sexual activity, as compared to males whose rates have remained consistent throughout the years.

Oral sex is less risky than intercourse, but not safe

Researchers found that about two-thirds of individuals between the ages of 15 and 25 have had oral sex. Such behavior puts participants at risk for acquiring a sexually transmitted disease, such as HIV, HPV and syphilis.

Adolescents are more likely to have oral sex because many believe that it is safer than vaginal intercourse and may preserve their virginity, as reported by ABC News.

"Intercourse, frankly, is considered more intimate, the last step in the baseball analogy," Geoffrey Michaelson, a psychologist who specializes in sexuality, told the news source. "There is a whole mystique about what is OK and what is not OK, but it's all self-delusion."

Michaelson firmly believes that any time two people exchange body fluids, fondle each other or cause arousal is considered sex.

Oral sex is the gateway to intercourse

According to a study published in the Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 50 percent of teens who engaged in oral sex during the ninth grade were likely to have intercourse within the next two years. Researchers at the University of California San Francisco surveyed approximately 600 high school students about their sexual experiences.

They found that among those individuals who claimed that they were sexually active, most had intercourse sometime within six months after first initiating oral sex. The senior author of the study, Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, Ph.D., said that the data suggest that the first act may influence riskier sexual behavior.

"We need to make sure teens know that if they do choose to have oral sex, certainly it does involve less risk than intercourse, but it's not risk-free," said Halpern-Felsher. "We also have to be sure to ask teens if they have any questions."

The first two years of high school may be the most vulnerable time for a teenager. Parents should be prepared to discuss such a topic with their son or daughter at this time, and not be alarmed. It's important that sexually active teens have all the information they need to make responsible decisions. 
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