In my continuing efforts to consider sexual health and wellbeing from a normative perspective, we examined how consequences of oral sex differ from consequences of vaginal sex in an ethnically and racially diverse college sample. From a risk perspective, consequences of sex can be reinforcing. From a normative developmental perspective, consequences provide information about how individuals perceive different sexual behaviors that may play a role in building their sexual sense of self or satisfaction.
Most prior work on consequences of sex focused on vaginal sex consequences. Work that did compare vaginal to oral sex generally used a between-person model, comparing people who have ever engaged in vaginal sex to individuals who have ever engaged in oral sex. In our study, we examined consequences at the daily level, comparing days individuals had vaginal sex (with or without oral sex) to days they had oral sex (without vaginal sex).
We also considered gender differences in perceived consequences, given sexual double standards that suggest sex outside of marriage or committed relationships is more acceptable for men than for women.
Here are the frequencies of the positive and negative consequences:
We also found that gender played a meaningful role in these associations. Female students were less likely to report feeling intimate with their partner and feeling physically satisfied as a result of sex on days they had oral compare to days they had vaginal sex, whereas the difference was smaller for men. For men, these two types of behaviors may be more similar experiences than for women, perhaps because the sexual double standard places a high value on female virginity. In addition, although oral sex resulted in less worrying about health than did vaginal sex for both female and male adolescents, the difference was greater for female than for male adolescents. Because women may experience pregnancy as a more immediate concern than men do, vaginal sex may have more health salience for women than oral sex does.
Overall, the findings contribute to our understanding of oral sex as a normative part of sexuality development, with consequences distinct from vaginal sex.
“The post How Consequences of Oral Sex Differ From Vaginal Sex Consequences first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz’s blog on June 5, 2018.”