, Volume 34, Issue 5, pp 557-568

Stability and Change in Sexual Practices among First-Year Australian University Students (1990–1999)

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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.