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What does ‘had sex’ mean?

By Vision Reporter

Added 5th May 2010 03:00 AM

Grain of science
Researchers in love related issues have been warned about the use of the word sex. According to William L Yarber, senior director at the Kinsey Institute, Indiana University, with the AIDS epidemic, we need to be more specific about behaviour, when identifying specific be

Grain of science
Researchers in love related issues have been warned about the use of the word sex. According to William L Yarber, senior director at the Kinsey Institute, Indiana University, with the AIDS epidemic, we need to be more specific about behaviour, when identifying specific behaviour that put people at risk, instead of just sex in general.

In his research, reported in Sexual Health of March, when people say they ‘had sex’, you cannot know what they mean. Wat transpired is anyone's guess. He advises that due to the vagueness of what sex is in our cultures, people may not consider certain behaviour sex, and thus ignore certain sexual health messages about risk.

His study found that no uniform consensus existed when a representative sample of 18 people aged 96 years was asked what the term ‘had sex’ meant to them. Only 30% considered oral sex as sex. Some youth insisted that some deep romance can qualify as sex. A surprising number of older men did not consider penile-vaginal intercourse to be sex. Another group of males said it is not sex when orgasm is not reached.

That means, the research concluded, the answers to questions about sex can inform—or misinform. “Researchers, doctors, parents, sex educators should all be very careful and not assume that their own definition of sex is shared by the person they are talking to–—be it a patient, a student, a child or study participant,” said Brandon Hill, research associate at the Kinsey Institute.

The study involved 486 respondents (204 men and 282 women, mostly heterosexual). Ninety-five percent of respondents considered penile-vaginal intercourse as having had sex, but this rate drops to 89% if there is no ejaculation.

Seventy one percent and 73% considered oral sex as having had sex. Hill said doctors who ask how many sexual partners the patient has had get different answers depending on the patients' definitions of sex.

There is plenty of fish.

What does ‘had sex’ mean?

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