Initiatives for safer sex should include oral sex

Kennedy Brookins

Sex is a big deal. No matter if you’re sexually active now or waiting for later, getting the facts about sex and the possible risks involved is vital. Sex education, however, has been missing a big lesson in its handbook — oral sex. The University of Texas’ on-campus clinic needs to better integrate oral sex in its health services education.

Whether we’ve been properly educated on it or not, young adults continue to have oral sex at high rates. About 67 percent of people ages 15-24 have had oral sex and this percentage has remained fairly consistent throughout the years. National surveys targeting young people show that we engage in more oral rather than vaginal sex because we believe it is relatively risk-free.

Sex educator Deborah Roffman said in a report about young adults’ sexual attitudes that college students “look at oral sex as an absolute bargain — you don’t get pregnant, they think you don’t get diseases, you’re still a virgin and you’re in control.”

The truth is, our generation is ignorant when it comes to the implications of oral sex. Federal health offices are frequently asked by young people, “Can I get an STD from oral sex?” The short answer is yes. Sexually transmitted infections like HPV, chlamydia and gonorrhea can all be transmitted through oral sex.

Our high school sex-ed classes did not prepare us with this knowledge, however, so it’s up to our clinic and health services on campus now to help us rethink oral sex.

Luckily, using condoms can greatly decrease your chance of getting these infections. When Healthyhorns hands out free condoms on campus throughout the year, they are not just intended for intercourse.

In the foldable packets that these condoms are placed in, UT health services have included instructions on how to properly use condoms. In addition, it would be beneficial to include a quick sentence saying that condoms should be used during any kind of sex, whether it’s vaginal, oral or anal. These packets could also include flavored condoms, which spark incentive to try them out during oral sex.

Unfortunately, we’ve led ourselves to believe that oral sex just doesn’t matter. Less than 1 in 5 young adults regard oral sex as “actual sex.” We can’t let this dissociation allow us to be reckless with how we protect ourselves.

Whether you consider oral to be “real” sex or not, the risks and potential consequences of it are real. And that’s not up for debate. Health services on campus should do more to include information about all types of safe sex. If it’s true that “healthy horns play safe,” then we need to play safe all the time.

Brookins is a psychology junior from McKinney. Follow her on Twitter @kenneteaa.