With pornography only being a swipe or a tap away, it’s becoming increasingly accessible, especially amongst curious teenagers. Now, researchers claim it may be part of the reason why those aged 16-24 are steering away from “traditional” sex. To reflect this change, they argue that sex educators need to update the information they provide in sexual health classes in order to support young people’s health and sexual wellbeing.
The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, noted that although vaginal penetration and oral sex were still amongst the most common practices, anal sex was climbing up there too. In 1990 to 1991, it was around one in 10 women and men who said they had performed vaginal, oral, and anal sex during the last year, but as times have changed, it is now around one in five women and one in four men.
The team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and University of College London also noted that the age of when teens were first having sex has not changed much over the last few decades. Nearly 25 years ago (between 1990 and 1996), the average age of first intercourse was 14. For this group, the average age for first dabbling into oral, vaginal, or anal play was 16.
Lead author Dr Ruth Lewis, from the University of Glasgow at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Science Unit, shared that education on sexuality and relationships needs to keep up with trends amongst young adults. It’s important that what they’re being educated, it reflects what they are experiencing.
“By shedding light on when some young people are having sex and what kinds of sex they are having, our study highlights the need for accurate sex and relationships education that provides opportunities to discuss consent and safety in relation to a range of sexual practices,” Lewis added in a statement. “This will equip young people with the information and skills they need to maximise their wellbeing from the outset of their sexual lives.”
Back in March of this year, the BBC announced that the government had made sex education compulsory for all school across England. Although parents are allowed to opt out their children, by 2019 sex education will be a topic all schools touch on when of age.
Primary school students were part of the new regulations too, adding that kids as young as four would be taught about safe and healthy relationships.