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Sexual practices of youth and their problems

We always thought that young people are more open to sexual experiences and there is a lot of talk about homosexual experiences and practices.

Relevant research and data are limited, since the majority of studies have focused on heterosexual populations, excluding gays and bisexuals. The exception is a large survey conducted on a sample of 2,276 American students to investigate the sexual practices of young people with heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual orientation.

13.2% of men and 4.7% of women reported that their sexual orientation is homosexual, while 2.5% of men and 5.7% of women reported bisexual orientation. The percentages of these are significantly higher than those recorded in earlier studies (frequency of homosexuality in earlier studies averaged 5% for men and 2-3% for women).

Of great interest are data which indicated that the sexual practices of young people are not determined solely by their orientation. So, 4% of men and 10% of women with heterosexual orientation said they had sexual experiences with people of the same sex. The most striking finding of the study was the fact that 37% of gay men and 44% of gay women had casual sexual experiences with people of the opposite sex.

Another interesting aspect of the study is that gay men reported statistically higher frequencies of erectile dysfunction (24% friendly, compared with 12% in heterosexual) and ejaculation problems, compared to heterosexuals. Conversely, homosexual women experienced less sexual problems than heterosexual women (51% in heterosexual and 29% in homosexual).

The study investigated possible factors that could explain the greater frequency of sexual dysfunction in male homosexuals and resulted in two: a) The duration of the relationship was decisive. Gay men (but not women) were more likely to engage in occasional relations and that was responsible for higher sexual performance anxiety, which decreased in the long-term relationships. b) Psychological problems, such as generalized anxiety disorder, is more common in homosexuals than heterosexuals, and this is known to play a catalytic role on erectile function.

The researchers conclude that there is a need to support young people with specialized sexologists, in order to cope well with their sexual orientation and to avoid the occurrence of sexual problems in their first sexual experiences, which if left unterated may that linger and become more complex.

Breyer BN, Smith JF, Eisenberg ML et al. (2010) The impact of sexual orientation on sexuality and sexual practices in North American medical students. J Sex Med 7: 2391-2400.


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