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Teens Increasingly Deviating From Traditional Sexual Practices

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Sex education for teenagers may need to get more graphic because adolescents are experimenting with taboo practices more and more, researchers have found.

A team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University College London have been tracking changing sexual practices of young people since 1990, the Telegraph reports. They discovered that among those ages 16-24 years old, more and more are moving away from traditional sexual intercourse – more than double the number. Experts say the accessibility of pornography on the internet is part of the reason for this increase.

Dr. Ruth Lewis, lead researcher on the project, said,

At a time when much sex and relationships education is being updated, keeping pace with current trends in sexual practices is crucial so that curricula are tailored to the realities of young people’s experiences.

She added, “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.”

However, the median age for first sexual encounters has not changed significantly in years. The most recent survey showed that the median age among men and women born from 1990 to 1996 was 14, while the median age is now 16 for both men and women. In the 1950s, the median age was 20 for women and 19 for men.

Kaye Wellings, Professor of Sexual and Reproductive Health at LSHTM, said, “The changes in practices we see here are consistent with the widening of other aspects of young people’s sexual experience, and are perhaps not surprising given the rapidly changing social context and the ever-increasing number of influences on sexual behavior. It is important to keep up to date with trends in sexual lifestyles to help young people safeguard their health and increase their wellbeing.”

The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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