The majority of young Canadians enjoy the pleasure of oral sex, according to a new study that's first of its kind.
The study conducted by the University of Guelph found young heterosexual couples were both givers and receivers — but for the most part, more women (59 per cent) than men (52 per cent) reported giving oral sex to their partners.
"I was really happy to see that the majority of women and men in this sample really enjoyed oral sex," author Jessica Wood tells the Huffington Post Canada. "However, we find that more women are giving oral sex and not receiving it. And the opposite is true for men, more men are receiving oral sex, but not giving it."
The study also found 52 per cent of men had more pleasure giving oral sex (compared to 28 per cent of women), but there were no gender differences for receiving it. Seventy-three per cent of men and 69 per cent of women said receiving oral sex was "very pleasurable."
Wood adds past research suggests women in particular may be uncomfortable receiving oral sex because they may feel self-conscious about their vaginas, which suggests a cultural stigma about women’s gentialia as shameful or dirty still proliferates.
"If many women are both receiving oral sex and reporting it as very pleasurable that suggests that maybe some progress is being made," she says.
To tackle some of the anxiety and issues of vaginal appearances, in 2013 the Large Labia Project launched on Tumblr (NSFW) encouraging women to celebrate their genitalia by submitting "vagina selfies."
The data for Wood's study was collected between December 2012 and January 2013 from 899 university students in Canada. In partnership with Trojan Sexual Health Division of Church and Dwight Canada and the Sex Information Education Council of Canada, the study aimed to understand the needs and behaviours of young students across the country.
But Wood says while statistics are one thing, data like this also changes the way how "sexual scripts" impact oral sex and other sensual behaviours.
"Sexual scripts give us ideas about who is 'supposed' to be the giver and receiver of oral sex. Traditionally, heterosexual women were placed in the 'passive/submissive' role of the giver, while heterosexual men were placed in the 'dominant' role of the receiver."
And compared to other types of polls or research about this very topic, Wood's study also made pleasure a focus.
"A lot of the time people are asked about their sexual behaviours but not actually asked about how much they enjoyed it, or how pleasurable it was," Wood explains. "[This] is a very important component, both for individual well-being and for university sexual health education programs to consider in their curriculum."
And as Wood would like to continue her research on heterosexual couples and how things like sexual scripts and gender roles contribute to pleasure, her explained her next focus will be on lesbian, gay and bisexual participants.
"I am curious to see how different sexual scripts play out within these relationships and how the gender of the partner impacts communication about behaviours, and the give and take that we see in sexual interactions."
And as this study looked at both casual hook-ups and committed relationships, it's clear oral sex is normal among Canadian students.
"Oral sex is a common and pleasurable sexual behavior among young adults. However, we need to continue education and awareness about how gender norms and sexual scripts impact who gives and receives oral sex."
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