There has been a lot of media attention in recent years looking at legal cases involving teens and sexting as well as cases of bullying or harassment of the teen who's picture is spread beyond the intended recipient.
When talking to my adolescent patients, I have started to hear that more of them are engaging in oral sex, and a study by the CDC just confirmed this. The recently released data confirm that about 2/3 of teens and young adults have had oral sex, which is about the same as those who have had vaginal intercourse. The data was based on online interviews with over 6,000 participants between the ages of 15-24, during the years 2007-2010.
The study also found that girls and boys both participated in oral sex and that sexual activity began at about the same age for both genders, with 44% of 15-17 year old males and 39% of girls engaging in some kind of sexual activity with an opposite sex partner. The gender gap in terms of sexuality has also narrowed.
While some teens in my own practice feel like oral sex is safer this is a misconception that needs to be refuted. While adolescents who perform or receive oral sex may be at no risk for pregnancy, and low risk for contracting HIV, the risk for other sexually transmitted infections including herpes, gonorrhea and HPV are still real. Most of my teens do not report condom use during oral sex.
This study confirms the need for more education for teens. While most parents have the talk with their children, how many parents are addressing oral sex? Many parents I see are still uncomfortable with discussing sexuality with their children and the thought that they may need to discuss oral sex makes them turn pale and cringe. They feel ill equipped for this discussion surrounding intimacy and are often looking for resources to help them. Many schools sex education courses do not even discuss oral sex and if so it is done in a cursory way.
If the CDC data is correct, then it is certainly the time to continue with good sex education and to discuss not only premarital vaginal intercourse, but oral sex as well. While it is true that the
With college students heading to school, I was reminded about a story at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, which is providing their students with the emergency contraceptive, Plan B, via a vending machine. Although at first this seemed like a different idea, the more I researched the more sense it made to me.
Plan B is a single pill that contains a higher dose of a progestin (hormone) than a regular birth control pill. If this hormone pill is taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex it can reduce the chance of an unintended pregnancy by up to 89%.
Plan B is available at pharmacies as well as many college health centers, and does not require a prescription, although the product is behind the counter. It is available to women over the age of 17 who show proof of their age.
The vending machine in question is not sitting in the middle of the student union!! It is also not in a dormitory, or in the gym. It is in the student health center!! The machine is also behind the counter as students must sign in and then be granted access to the treatment area. After going behind the counter a student may purchase Plan B (which costs $25) as well as condoms, pregnancy tests, cold remedies, throat lozenges etc.
This is no different to me than having a student walking across campus to their nearest CVS, or Walgreens to obtain the medication or condoms etc. Plan B is readily accessible if a woman is of age and can get to the pharmacy. The university is providing this service to their students only, all of whom are over the age of 17 and have shown ID and are admitted to the clinic treatment area.
The vending machine was put into place after a student vote that showed that over 85% of students approved of this idea. The students also felt as if this would help students obtain the medication