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Updated 12 May 2014

Is oral sex really sex?

Can oral sex be regarded as sex? Or just part of heavy petting? Health24 explores.

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No, it’s not, was the opinion of the former president of the US. It probably depends on your definition of sex. If you think all real sex is penetrative, then you would answer no to the above question. But if you think of it as mutual stimulation to the point of orgasm, you would probably say yes.

Many teenagers practise oral or non-vaginal sex as there is a general belief that it is safer or simply not the same as having sex.

What contributes to this is peoples’ perception that loss of virginity happens with their first experience of penetrative sex.

One also cannot become pregnant from having oral sex, which is what makes it particularly attractive to many youngsters who are hesitant to go to a family planning clinic or buy contraceptives elsewhere.

No tell-tale packets of pills or condoms can be found by snooping parents or siblings, which for many teenagers from conservative homes is a considerable worry.

The harsh truth of the matter is that while pregnancy can be avoided by having only oral sex, sexually transmitted infections can still be contracted. While the chances are very low of contracting HIV in this manner, other STIs such as herpes, gonorrhea, oral thrush and chlamydia easily get passed on in this manner. So, while pregnancy is not on the cards, many other unwelcome ‘visitors’ could be.

The long and the tall and the short of this is that people should be just as careful choosing a partner for oral sex as they would for normal sexual intercourse. If you are too shy to go to the family planning clinic, imagine having to go to the STI clinic.


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