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Teen talk: Does oral sex count?

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

Technical virginity

Teens engage in oral sex more often than sexual intercourse. Some view oral sex as casual and risk-free, while others use oral and anal sex as a way to technically preserve their virginity.

Technically speaking

If you want to get technical about it, the definition of a virgin is a person who has not had sexual intercourse, and intercourse means penetration of the vagina by the penis. Therefore, a person could have oral (or anal) sex every day and still consider him/herself a virgin. However, the technical definition and the reality can be considered different things, depending on who you ask.

Does oral sex count?

We talked to several teens and their answers varied. One candid 16-year-old boy from Boston says, "Girls want to remain virgins until they're married, but want to have some fun, too. I've run into quite a few who are willing to have oral or anal sex all the time, but still consider themselves virgins. One girl told me that she'll be a virgin on her wedding day in the eyes of God, but in my opinion, she's a slut. She's had anal sex with at least five guys, and she's only 17."

Shocking? Definitely, but apparently not uncommon. Over the past decade, oral sex has become so commonplace among some teens who view it very casually. In the 2009 documentary Oral Sex Is the New Goodnight Kiss, girls as young as 11 years old talked about the prevalence of oral sex, as well as crossing into "friendly" prostitution by exchanging sexual favors for homework, new clothes and cash. Some teens have "friends with benefits" relationships that include casual oral sex without commitment, while others turn to oral and anal sex while dating to avoid pregnancy.

In recent years, some teens say things are improving with oral sex becoming less and less common in their schools. "It's not as bad now as it was when I was in junior high," says 17-year-old Tricia from Dallas. "Back then, everyone was giving blow jobs -- even at school. For the past few years, everyone is getting a little more educated about the risks and dangers. Most of my friends haven't had oral sex unless they are in a long-term relationship."

Find out: Is it time to have the sex talk? >>

Risky business

Many teens believe oral sex is a safe alternative to sexual intercourse. And for that reason, they are willing to take the risk. Certainly you can't get pregnant from oral sex, but that doesn't mean that oral sex is disease-free. HIV, herpes, gonorrhea and other STDs can be transmitted through oral sex.

Read about HPV from oral sex >>

Defining sex

Talk to your kids about sex. Even though a person could technically remain a virgin and still have oral (or anal) sex -- sex is sex. Educate your kids about the risks of any type of sexual activity. According to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 39 percent of teens did not use a condom the last time they had sex. That number is alarmingly high. Discuss the need for protection for all types of sexual activity. Talk about affection that doesn't include sex acts, as well as self respect, values and morals. Kids are most influenced by their parents, so keep an ongoing dialogue with your children about tough topics like sex.

More about teen sex

Sex facts: Clueless teens are getting pregnant
Expert tips for talking to your daughter about sex
Discussing sex and birth control with your teen

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