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Statistics on Oral Sex Experience Among Canadian Teenagers

Trends in Oral Sex Experience Among Youth

Most of the large sample research examining sexual behaviour among Canadian teens has focused on vaginal intercourse. Relatively less is known about trends and behavioural patterns related to oral sex behaviours among Canadian youth. However, several studies conducted in Canada have examined teen oral sex behaviour. Relevant research data from the United States helps to provide a more complete picture of oral sex behaviour among teens.

The Canadian Youth, Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Study (Boyce et al., 2006) conducted in 2002/2003 as well as an elicitation research survey conducted in 1992 in conjunction with the Skills for Healthy Relationships curriculum (Warren & King, 1994) are the two largest sample surveys to examine oral sex among Canadian youth. Both surveys asked Grade 9 and 11 students if they had ever participated in oral sex.

Comparing the data from these two studies indicates that between 1994 and 2002/03 there was an increase in the percentages of male and female students in each age group reporting that they had ever engaged in oral sex (Table 1). In 2002/2003, less than a third of Grade 9 students and just over half of Grade 11 students reported that they had ever experienced oral sex.

Table 1: Percentage of Canadian Grade 9 And 11 Students Reporting Oral Sex at Least Once 1994, 2002/03

 

1994

2002/03

Grade 9

 

 

Male

27%

32%

Female

21%

28%

Grade 11

 

 

Male

48%

53%

Female

47%

52%

Source: Boyce, et al. (2006). Sexual health of Canadian youth: Findings from the Canadian Youth, Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Study. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 15 (2), 59-68.; Warren & King. (1994). Development and Evaluation of an AIDS/STD/Sexuality Program for Grade 9 Students.

As a point of reference, it can be informative to compare the prevalence of ever having oral sex with the prevalence of ever having intercourse. Data from the Canadian Youth, Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Study (Boyce et al., 2006) enables a comparison of the prevalence of the two behaviours. As shown in Table 2, in 2002/03 for each grade and gender category, students were more likely to report ever having oral sex than ever having intercourse.

Table 2: Canadian Youth, Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Study, Percentage of Canadian Grade 9 and 11 Students Reporting Oral Sex/Intercourse.

 

Oral Sex

Intercourse

Grade 9

 

 

Male

32%

23%

Female

28%

19%

Grade 11

 

 

Male

53%

40%

Female

52%

46%

Source: Boyce, et al. (2006). Sexual health of Canadian youth: Findings from the Canadian Youth, Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Study. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 15 (2), 59-68

Neither of the two studies cited above distinguished between who was giving and receiving oral sex. It is sometimes assumed that with respect to teen oral sex there is a gender discrepancy in which females are more likely to be giving (fellatio) rather than receiving (cunnilingus) oral sex from their male partners. Nor do we have large sample data on oral sex among Canadian youth that is more recent than the 2002/2003 data provided by the Canadian Youth, Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Study. Thus, to get a more complete picture of adolescent oral sex and examine more recent data for this behaviour it is useful to examine research on oral sex among teens in the United States.

The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior was a nationally representative sample survey of adolescents and adults in the United States conducted in 2009 (Hebenick, Reece, Schick, Sanders, Dodge, & Fortenberry, 2010). Table 3 provides a more comprehensive break-down of oral sex behaviour than is available from the Canadian data. Differences in the percentages of male and female teens giving and receiving oral sex were smaller among 14-15 year-olds than among the older age groups.  Among younger teens (14-15), females were more likely than males to give oral sex.  However, at age 18-19, females were almost as likely to report that they had received oral sex from a male as they were to report that they gave oral sex to a male and females in this age group were more likely than males to report that they had received oral sex from an opposite sex partner in the previous year.      

Table 3: National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, Percentages of Males and Females Reporting Giving and Receiving Heterosexual Oral Sex in the Past Year, Ages 14-19

Age

14-15

16-17

18-19

Oral Sex Behaviours

 

 

 

Male Received

11.9%

30.9%

53.6%

Male Gave

7.8%

18.3%

50.7%

Female Received

10.0%

23.5%

58.0%

Female Gave

11.8%

22.4%

58.5%

Source: Adapted from Hebenick, D., Reece, M., Schick, V., Sanders, S.A., Dodge, B., & Fortenberry, J.D. (2010). Sexual behavior in the United States: results from a national probability sample of men and women ages 14-94. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7 (suppl 5), 255-2654.

The Canadian and U.S. data on oral sex among teens summarized above are not directly comparable (i.e., the Canadian data refers to ever having oral sex, the U.S. data refers to oral sex in the past year; the Canadian data is categorized by grade, the U.S. data is categorized by age). However, a general comparison of the Canadian Youth, Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Study (Boyce et al., 2006) and the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (Hebenick et al., 2010) with respect to the time of data collection (2002/2003 and 2009 respectively) and the prevalence of oral sex among teens suggests that oral sex did not become more common among teens between the early 2000’s and late 2000’s.

Summary

Data from Boyce et al. (2006) suggests that less than a third of Grade 9 and just over half of Grade 11 Canadian youth report ever having oral sex; somewhat higher percentages of both Grade 9 and 11 students and male and female students reported ever having oral sex than ever having intercourse. Data from the U.S. suggests that there are some gender differences in patterns of oral sex behaviour among teens (Hebenick et al., 2010). However, these data are not consistent with a general assumption that oral sex among teens is largely confined to females giving oral sex to males without reciprocation.

A comparison data from two similar Canadian studies (Boyce et al., 2006; Warren & King, 1994) suggests that the percentage of Canadian teens ever having experienced oral sex increased somewhat between 1994 and 2002/2003. A comparison of the most recent large sample study of oral sex behaviour among Canadian youth conducted in 2002/2003 (Boyce et al., 2006) with a more recent study of oral sex behaviour among U.S. youth conducted in 2009 (Hebenick et al., 2010) tentatively suggests that the percentage of youth ever having had oral sex did not increase between the two time periods in which these two studies were conducted. 

References

Boyce, W., Doherty-Poirier, M., Mackinnon, D., Fortin, C., Saab, H. King, M. & Gallupe, O. (2006). Sexual health of Canadian youth: Findings from the Canadian Youth, Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Study. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 15 (2), 59-68.

Hebenick, D., Reece, M., Schick, V., Sanders, S.A., Dodge, B., & Fortenberry, J.D. (2010). Sexual behavior in the United States: results from a national probability sample of men and women ages 14-94. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7 (suppl 5), 255-2654.

Warren & King. (1994). Development and Evaluation of an AIDS/STD/Sexuality Program for Grade 9 Students. Social Program Evaluation Group, Queens University.