Oral vs. Vaginal Sex Experiences and Consequences Among First-Year College Students

Abstract

To fully understand late adolescents’ experiences of oral sex, we must consider both risk and normative developmental perspectives. Sexual experiences include a range of behaviors, but research on sexual behaviors and consequences focuses primarily on vaginal sex. Oral sex occurs at rates similar to vaginal sex, and carries some, though less, risk than vaginal sex. The current study examined the event-level prevalence and consequences of oral sex compared to vaginal sex with other-sex partners in first-year college students. Daily data were from recently sexually active first-year college students (N = 253 people, 834 days; M age, 18.4 years; SD = 0.4; 56 % female; 31 % Hispanic/Latino; 17 % African American, 14 % Asian American/Pacific Islander, 25 % European American, 12 % multiracial) who reported on sexual behaviors and consequences. Both positive (intimacy, physical satisfaction) and negative (worrying about health, guilt) consequences were less common for oral than vaginal sex. Gender differences suggested that female adolescents may find vaginal sex more rewarding than oral sex, whereas male adolescents may find them equally rewarding.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health grant R01AA016016 awarded to Jennifer Maggs. We would like to thank Jennifer Maggs, Nicole Morgan, Meg Small, and the rest of the University Life Study team for their help with study design, data collection, and data management.

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Correspondence to Eva S. Lefkowitz.

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Lefkowitz, E.S., Vasilenko, S.A. & Leavitt, C.E. Oral vs. Vaginal Sex Experiences and Consequences Among First-Year College Students. Arch Sex Behav 45, 329–337 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-015-0654-6

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Keywords

  • Oral sex
  • Sexual behavior
  • Adolescents