Many Young People Unaware of Risks of Oral Sex

Youths suggest increased use of protection could occur with better knowledge, better protection options, normalization in popular culture

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TUESDAY, Feb. 8, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- More than half of U.S. youths report the need for more education about the risks of oral sex, according to a study published in the January issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Arianna Strome, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues conducted a national text message poll of 909 youths (aged 14 to 24 years) to assess their knowledge and perceptions of oral sex risk and barriers to protection use.

The researchers found that youths' responses regarding why protection is frequently not used centered around lack of education (22.4 percent), no perceived sexually transmitted infection (STI) risk (19.8 percent), decreased pleasure (19.3 percent), and no pregnancy risk (15.7 percent). According to additional results from the survey, the use of protection during oral sex could be increased through comprehensive education (53.7 percent), normalization in popular culture and media (19.1 percent), increased access to protection (15 percent), and improved protection options (10.5 percent).

"Youths demonstrated limited knowledge of the risks of oral sex, dissatisfaction with current protection options, and a need for normalization in popular culture," the authors write. "Programs developed with youths in mind may be able to successfully increase protection use and decrease rates of STI transmission and oral sex-related human papillomavirus head and neck cancer."

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