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IU study finds no consensus in definitions of 'had sex'
Date:3/4/2010

even less consistent across the board."

The study involved responses from 486 Indiana residents who took part in a telephone survey conducted by the Center for Survey Research at IU. Participants, mostly heterosexual, were asked, "Would you say you 'had sex' with someone if the most intimate behavior you engaged in was ...," followed by 14 behaviorally specific items. Here are some of the results:

  • Responses did not differ significantly overall for men and women. The study involved 204 men and 282 women.

  • 95 percent of respondents would consider penile-vaginal intercourse (PVI) having had sex, but this rate drops to 89 percent if there is no ejaculation.

  • 81 percent considered penile-anal intercourse having had sex, with the rate dropping to 77 percent for men in the youngest age group (18-29), 50 percent for men in the oldest age group (65 and up) and 67 percent for women in the oldest age group.

  • 71 percent and 73 percent considered oral contact with a partner's genitals (OG), either performing or receiving, as having had sex.

  • Men in the youngest and oldest age groups were less likely to answer "yes" compared with the middle two age groups for when they performed OG.

  • Significantly fewer men in the oldest age group answered "yes" for PVI (77 percent).

Hill said it is common for a doctor, when seeing a patient with symptoms of sexually transmitted infections, to ask how many sexual partners the patient has or has had. The number will differ according to the patients' definitions of sex.

William L. Yarber, RCAP's senior director and co-author of the study, said its findings reaffirm the need to be specific about behaviors when talking about sex

"There's a vagueness of what sex is in our culture and media," Yarber said. "If people don't consider certain behaviors sex, they might not think sexual health messages about risk pertain to them. The AIDS epidemic has for
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Contact: Brandon Hill
brjhill@indiana.edu
812-855-7686
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert

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