30 Percent of People Do Not Think Oral Sex Counts as Sex

Mar 04, 2010

What do people mean when they say they "had sex"? Researchers revealed that many people have quite different understanding of that phrase, which can become an obstacle to medical diagnosis or treatment.

A new study conducted at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University together with the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention in IU's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation surveyed486 respondents, mostly heterosexual, aged between 18 and 96 about their definition of sex. Researchers suggested 14 specific sexual behaviors and asked whether the participants would consider them as "having sex".

The findings showed that:

  • As much as 30 percent of respondents did not consider oral sex, either giving or receiving, to be sex. Younger people were more likely to consider oral-genital contacts to be sex than older respondents.

  • Almost 20 percent of people do not count anal intercourse as "having sex". This rate increased with the age, being 33 percent of young people aged between 18 and 29, who do not count anal sex as sex and as much as 50 percent for men aged 65 and over.

  • For 95 percent of people, penile-vaginal intercourse is considered to be sex, but only if man ejaculates. In case, when there is no ejaculation, only 89 percent of respondents agreed that they "had sex".

  • Surprisingly, more than 20 percent of older men did not consider penile-vaginal intercourse as "having sex".

Brandon Hill, research associate at the Kinsey Institute and the author of the study, said that the results of the study confirm that doctors should be specific about sexual behavior when they deal with patients. Many people, who do not consider certain behavior as having sex, may ignore numerous health risks. This especially refers to the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

The study was published in February issue in the international health journal "Sexual Health".