Spot The Cognitive Dissonance!

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Yahoo News is running an article entitled Sex of any kind can harm teens emotionally.” It starts out as follows:

Teenagers often suffer emotional consequences from having sex, even when it’s “only” oral sex, a study published Monday suggests.

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco found that up to one-half of the sexually active teenagers in their study said they’d ever felt “used,” guilty or regretful after having sex.

Though such feelings were less common among teens who’d only had oral sex, about one-third reported some type of negative consequence.

Dr. Sonya S. Brady and Bonnie L. Halpern-Felsher report the findings in the journal Pediatrics. …

What the title will not lead you to expect is the conclusion of the piece, which reports:

… Among the sexually active teens, those who said they’d had only oral sex were generally less likely to report negative consequences, whether physical — pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections — or emotional.

However, they were also less likely to report positive effects, like feeling closer to their partner or feeling good about themselves. Such positive feelings about sex were common, the study found. In fact, the teens more often reported positive effects than negative ones.

This suggests that when parents talk with their kids about sex, it might be a good idea to acknowledge the potential positive outcomes, like emotional intimacy, Brady and Halpern-Felsher note in their report. Parents could then talk about other ways to find those same feelings.

Postive effects of teen sex! Not something the popular discourse is likely to highlight, which is probably why it is buried at the end. It’s kind of surprising the article mentioned this at all, really. Unfortunately, there is apparently a gendered tilt to all this. The authors’ results summary is as follows:

In comparison with adolescents who engaged in oral sex and/or vaginal sex, adolescents who engaged only in oral sex were less likely to report experiencing a pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection, feeling guilty or used, having their relationship become worse, and getting into trouble with their parents as a result of sex. Adolescents who engaged only in oral sex were also less likely to report experiencing pleasure, feeling good about themselves, and having their relationship become better as a result of sex. Boys were more likely than girls to report feeling good about themselves, experiencing popularity, and experiencing a pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection as a result of sex, whereas girls were more likely than boys to report feeling bad about themselves and feeling used.

The referenced study is available here with a Pediatrics subscription.

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0 Responses to Spot The Cognitive Dissonance!

  1. Joseph Slater says:

    Good and interesting post. But I couldn’t help noticing this line from the original report:

    “adolescents who engaged only in oral sex were less likely to report experiencing a pregnancy. . . .”

    I guess a contrary finding would have been news, but still. . . .

  2. Q. Pheevr says:

    This part doesn’t surprise me:

    [...A]dolescents who engaged only in oral sex were less likely to report experiencing a pregnancy [...].

    This part does:

    Boys were more likely than girls to report [...] experiencing a pregnancy [...] as a result of sex [...].

  3. bob coley jr says:

    though male, i understand that there may be some misunderstanding caused by the word “experiencing”". when i was 18 my first child was born. my wife gave birth not i yet i had an experience. it was way different than hers but an experience none the less. the researchers may have chosen this way to allow for differing views of the same event.
    or… they are not too swift. oral…pregnancy..less likely….hmm!