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#soropositivoorg A Kinsey Institute study does not reach consensus on the definition of "having sex"

Press Release

When people use the expression “had sex,” various meanings can be attributed. A recent study by Indiana University's Kinsey Institute revealed no consensus on the meaning of this term when questioning a sample of people aged 18 and 96.

Is oral sex considered sex? For 30 percent of study participants was not. What about anal sex? For about 20 percent of participants, neither.

A surprising number of older men did not consider pen-vaginal intercourse as sex. More than just curiosity, answering these questions about sex can inform - or 'misinform' - researchers and doctors' counseling and health education efforts.

"Researchers, doctors, parents and sex educators should be cautious and not assume that their own definition of sex is shared by the person they are talking to, whether it's a patient, a student, a child or a study participant," he said. Brandon Hill, associate researcher at the Kinsey Institute.

The study, conducted in partnership with the Rural Center for AIDS / STD Prevention (RCAP) at the University of Indiana's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, further investigated an issue that had already been researched in 1999 - during a scandal. that involved a president where the definition of sex was debated. Researchers at the Kinsey Institute asked college students what it meant to “have sex,” taking a unique approach to date by having students vote for specific behaviors.

There was no consensus at that time either. The new study, published in the international journal Sexual Health in February, investigated whether further information helped clarify the issue - students who participated were asked about specific sexual behaviors and qualifiers such as whether orgasm was reached - and the researchers involved a more representative sample, not restricted to college students only.

"Increasing the spectrum of the study, with a more representative sample, just confused and complicated it more," said Hill. “People were even less consistent.”

The study involved responses from 486 Indiana residents who participated in a telephone questionnaire conducted by the Center for Survey Research at the University of Indiana.

Participants, mostly heterosexual, were asked “Would you say you 'had sex' with someone if the most intimate behavior they were involved in was…”, followed by 14 specific behavioral items. Here are some of the results:

** Responses did not differ significantly overall between men and women. The study involved 204 men and 282 women.

** 95 percent of respondents considered PEN to be “having sex,” but this rate decreases to 80% if there was no ejaculation.

** 81 percent regarded anal penetration ratios as “having sex”, with the rate dropping to 77% for men in the younger group (18-29), 50% for men in the older group (65 or more) and 67% for older women.

** 71 percent and 73% considered oral contact with both insertive and receptive partner's genitals (OG) as having 'sex'.

** Men in the younger and older groups were less likely to answer “yes” when compared to the two middle age groups about OG relationships.

** There was a significantly lower response from men in the older group regarding vaginal penetration (77 percent).

Hill said it is common for a doctor, when observing a patient with symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection, to ask him how many sexual partners he has or had. The number will vary according to the patient's gender definition.

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

"There is some uncertainty about what sex is in our culture and the media," said Yarber. “If people do not consider certain behaviors as sex, they may view certain sexual health risk messages as not for them. The AIDS epidemic has forced us to be much more behavior-specific as well as to identify specific behaviors that put people at risk rather than sex in general. However, much remains to be improved. ”

Reference

Sanders S et al. Misclassification bias: diversity in conceptualisations about having 'had sex'. Sexual Health 7 (1): 31-34, 2010.

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