'It feels good': Australian young women's attitudes to oral sex

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A Family Planning NSW study of 193 Australian young women's attitudes to oral sex considers their reported reasons for engaging in oral sex, and how they say they speak about oral sex with their friends. The paper also looks at how young women access information about oral sex, and what they thought might make it easier for them to talk about oral sex and related health issues with a health care worker or doctor. The survey found a generally positive attitude toward oral sex with a wide acceptance of it as part of normal sexual activity. However, approximately half of the young women also reported that they had felt pressured at some point in time to engage in oral sex. These findings support the complexity of young people's sexual lives and the need for further analysis to increase health-promoting educational knowledge in this emerging area of health and sexuality.

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... Although no available study had examined the decision of engaging in oral sex among Malaysian young adults, the high percentage of receiving and giving oral sex in this study could be explained by reasons reported in past research findings. For instance, a study reported that young people chose to engage in oral sex because they are not ready for penile-vaginal sex and they believe that oral sex reduces the risk of pregnancy and STIs as compared to penile-vaginal sex (Hammond, Estoesta, Passmore, & Ruddock, 2011). Another study also found that individuals engaged in oral sex because it is perceived to be less risky, more prevalent, and more acceptable than penile-vaginal sex (Halpern-Felsher, Cornell, Kropp, & Tschann, 2005). ...
Objectives: This study examined whether family sexual communication (FSC) can predict sexual attitude, initiation of sexual experience, and practice of safe sex behaviors among unmarried Malaysian young adults. Method: Three hundred eighty Malaysians aged between 18 and 30 years completed an anonymous online survey. Results: Multiple regressions and logistic regression were used in the data analysis. FSC was a significant predictor of sexual attitude, experience, and behaviors. Among the 3 dimensions of FSC, comfort significantly predicted sexual experience, information significantly predicted sexual attitude, and value significantly predicted sexual attitude and behaviors. Conclusion: Parents play a significant role in influencing their children’s sexual attitude, experience, and behaviors.
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A questionnaire on sexual attitudes and behavior was administered to first-year students at Macquarie University in Sydney every year from 1990 to 1999 (N = 4295 aged 18-19; 72.5% female). Responses to questions about experience of different sexual practices (tongue kissing, oral sex, and vaginal intercourse) with regular and casual partners were analyzed for trends. Over half of the students each year (on average 64% of the men, 57% of the women) had experience of oral sex or vaginal intercourse. More male than female students reported experience of each practice, especially with casual partners. Rates for female students increased significantly over the 10-year period for all practices except tongue kissing with a regular partner and vaginal sex with a casual partner; rates for male students were apparently steady. Results are consistent with evidence from other sources of an increase in the acceptability of oral sex (both fellatio and cunnilingus) in recent decades and of increasing similarity between young men's and women's reports of sexual experience.
Editor—Since 1988 we have surveyed first year students in behavioural sciences at Macquarie University in Sydney on their attitudes to and knowledge of HIV and AIDS and relevant risk behaviours. In 1998 we asked 545 students aged 17 to 73 (median age 19; 62% under 20) which of the following activities count as “having sex with” someone: tongue kissing, touching or stroking sexual organs with the hand (mutual masturbation), oral sex (mouth on penis or vulva) with or without orgasm, and penetration of the vagina or anus by a penis with or without ejaculation. Only 7% (33/471) regarded tongue kissing as having sex, 30% (140/470) regarded touching or stroking, 54% (258/476) regarded oral sex without orgasm, and 58% (275/475) regarded oral sex with orgasm as having sex. Over 99% (491/494) agreed that penis-vagina sex with ejaculation was sex, and 97% (477/492) thought it was even if no ejaculation occurred. About 10% excluded anal sex from their definition of sex. Older students were far more likely to rate non-intercourse activities as sex: 3% (10/311) of those under 20 and 14% (22/156) of those over 20 counted tongue kissing as sex; 49% (152/309) of those under 20 and 74% (120/162) of those over 20 counted oral sex with orgasm. All of the 21 students over age 40 thought that oral sex with orgasm was sex. Men were somewhat more likely than women to count non-coital sex as having sex. The 5% (30/551) of respondents who were not heterosexual (that is, those who identified themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, or did not answer the question) regarded more activities as sex, but the differences were not statistically significant. The exception was touching and stroking, which 50% (12/24) of non-heterosexuals but only 29% (128/446) of heterosexuals regarded as sex. These results are likely to be representative of Australian students in general. The sexual knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours of these university students have been shown to be little different from those of randomly selected students studying other subjects at other universities.1 Questionnaires were handed out by us, not by the teachers, in a large lecture theatre and completed anonymously. Very few (<1%) students refused the survey altogether; non-response for questions varied between 10% and 15%. Researchers should clarify their definitions if they want younger respondents to include non-coital sex in their reports of sexual activities and partners. It is possible that HIV prevention campaigns which emphasised the use of condoms over the past decade may have fostered the view that the only real sex is the sort you use a condom for. This will make it more difficult to promote non-coital sex as safe sex.
p a red with private households, become even more inflamed when the questions go into behaviors "beyond" intercourse. Another reason is the federal govern- ment's reluctance to sponsor such con- t roversial re s e a rch into the full range of noncoital behaviors among adolescents.* For example, the highly charged political debate in 1992 over federal financing of c o m p rehensive sexuality studies had a chilling effect on adolescent sexuality re- s e a rc h . 1 The Senate's decision, pro m p t e d by pre s s u re from a small group of con- servative senators, to deny funding for the American Teenage Study of adolescent sexual behavior still reverberates in the scope of re s e a rch on teenagers. (An amendment sponsored by Sen. Jesse Helms (R.-NC) prohibited the funding of that survey, along with one of adults, "in fiscal year 1992 or any subsequent fis c a l y e a r. " 2 Despite warnings that ideology was dictating science, the conservative leadership succeeded in casting these en- deavors as "re p rehensible sex surveys" only undertaken "to legitimize homosex- uality and other sexually pro m i s c u o u s lifestyles." 3 )
The development of UK national targets to reduce the transmission of HIV and other STDs has focused health promotion efforts on advocating the use of condoms during penetrative vaginal and anal sex. However, other behaviors that can facilitate STD transmission-such as oral sex and, in particular, fellatio-have received limited attention. Between 2003 and 2005, a sample of 1,373 full- and part-time students, primarily aged 16-18, completed questionnaires about their knowledge, attitudes and experiences related to sexual behavior and health. Chi-square tests were used to assess differences by sexual experience and gender. Supplementary data were obtained from sexual event diaries completed by 108 young people. Fifty-six percent of survey respondents had experienced fellatio or cunnilingus, including 22% of those who had not yet engaged in penetrative intercourse. Of young people who had had vaginal intercourse, 70% had previously had oral sex. Among those who had experienced fellatio once, 17% had used a condom, but only 2% of respondents who had engaged in fellatio more than once reported consistent use. Reduced pleasure and lack of motivation, desire and forethought were reasons given for not using condoms during fellatio; hygiene, avoidance of the dilemma of whether to spit or swallow ejaculate, and taste were commonly cited as triggers for use. Greater efforts are needed to publicize the risk of exposure to STDs that many young people face because of unprotected noncoital sexual activities before, as well as after, they enter into relationships involving intercourse.
Little is known about factors associated with the day-to-day selection and orchestration of sexual repertoire among adolescent women. Analyzing differences in adolescent women's sexual activity may augment both the clinical and behavioral understanding of sexuality development and sexual decision making, and may yield important points to enhance existing programs for prevention of sexually transmitted infection or pregnancy. Adolescent women (N = 387, aged 14-17 years at enrollment) were recruited from primary care adolescent clinics serving primarily lower- and middle-income patients. Data were taken from daily sexual diaries. A four-category outcome variable, using generalized estimating equation multinomial logistic regression assessed the likelihood of specific sexual behaviors on a given day: none (abstinence), non-coital-only, coital-only, and dual noncoital/coitus. Separate models were analyzed for fellatio, cunnilingus, and anal sex. Predictor variables included age, menstrual bleeding, alcohol or marijuana use, positive or negative mood, recent coitus, recent noncoital sexual activity, partner support or negativity, sexual interest, feeling in love, time of the week, and same-day noncoital behaviors. Coital-only sexual behavior was used as the reference category. Among adolescent women, abstinence is prevalent on the majority of days. When sexual activity does occur, coital-only activity is most common; however, noncoital behaviors alone and/or in tandem with coitus are not rare. Differing associations of intrapersonal, partner and situational variables with specific types of day-to-day sexual activity underscores a complex sexual repertoire which may be insufficiently examined with a simple focus on coital risk.