Young people today are experimenting with a wider range of sexual practices than their parents’ generation, a new study has revealed.
The study, which aims to highlight the need for accurate sex and relationships education, found the number of heterosexual men and women aged 16-24 having vaginal, oral and anal sex to have risen – from one in ten women and men in 1990-1991, to one in four men and one in five women in 2010-2012.
Professor Kaye Wellings, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “The changes in practices we see here are perhaps not surprising given the rapidly changing social context and the ever-increasing number of influences on sexual behaviour.
“It is important to keep up to date with trends in sexual lifestyles to help young people safeguard their health and increase their well being.”
Change of focus
While other studies focus on the age of losing virginity, the authors claim less is known about when people start having other types of sexual experience – such as kissing.
Their survey showed that among those born between 1990 and 1996, the median age for first sexual experience of any kind was 14, with 16 the median age for having sex.
Dr Ruth Lewis, who co-authored the study, said: “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. This will equip young people with the information and skills they need to maximise their wellbeing from the outset of their sexual lives.”