Adolescent trends in anal sex

I am on a continuing search for information about adolescents and anal sex. I recently ran across an article that suggests 25% of adolescent relationships include anal sex, with 10% including anal sex on a regular basis (Baldwin & Baldwin, 2000). Another article reports that 10% of the study participants (who were 18 – 21) had engaged in receptive anal intercourse, while 27% had engaged in insertive anal intercourse (Ompad, 2006).

What to think about this information? Well, more than anything else it suggests that the tried-and-true method of keeping adolescents from having anal sex (i.e., not mentioning it because then they won’t know about it) isn’t working. Adolescents are having anal sex, folks. Not as much as they’re having oral or vaginal sex, but nevertheless we cannot ignore these numbers. Anal sex can be dangerous and have serious long-term health implications. In addition to the high risk of STD transmission, there is a real risk of injury if care and lots of lube are not used.

So, while I know that in the current sex education climate getting educators to mention condoms in relation to vaginal intercourse is an uphill battle, I am stating my position here and now that we also need to talk to teenagers about safe anal intercourse. Not in over explicit ways, and not to 10-year-olds. But anal-sex information has its place in age-appropriate, information-based sex education. Because teenagers are already doing it.


Baldwin, J.I. & Baldwin, J.D. (2000). Heterosexual Anal Intercourse: An understudied, high-risk sexual behavior. Archives of sexual behavior, 29, (4): 357-373.

Ompad, D.C. (2006). Predictors of early initiation of vaginal and oral sex among urban young adults in Baltimore, Maryland. Archives Of Sexual Behavior. Archives of sexual behavior, 35 (1): 53-65.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. This is one reason why “comprehensive” sex education is a misnomer in itself. Can you imagine even a comprehensive course explaining the intricacies of anal sex to adolescents? Of course not.

    We need to move from “comprehensive” sex education to “reality-based” sex education – provide teens with knowledge about the real world of what is going on in their sexual lives. Of course, that won’t be happening any time soon. Ha!

  2. *runs away screaming*

  3. “there is a real risk of injury if care and lots of lube are not used.”

    Yeah, my first time was such a failure, it was a wonder I ever tried it again.

    Using soap as lube (we were in the shower) and shoving it in fast was NOT a good idea. Oh, the pain.

    But I also don’t see anyone teaching teens about anal sex anytime soon. People don’t want to teach it, and teens don’t want to hear about it from an adult, even if it IS something that they are curious about. I mean, what average teen would admit to stickin’ it in the ass, ya know?

  4. The thing is, we need to give teens the information even if they don’t want to hear it. There’s no need to be overly explicit or anything, and it might even be as simple as “Here’s where the information is (online or in a book or whatever). It’s really, really important, so go read it before you do it.”

Comments are closed.