All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Gwen Childs

Advisory Committee Members

Kyrel Buchanan

Comfort Enah

Candace Knight

Tina Simpson

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Nursing


Although sexually transmitted infections (STI) are not officially reported via the route of transmission, the CDC (2016) reports that individuals who provide fellatio have the highest risk of oral transmission of a STI. Therefore, females who engage in fellatio are at risk for acquiring a STI. The majority of research studies on young adult heterosexual female sexual activities primarily focus on vaginal sex and the associated risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Limited research exists on the oral sex behaviors of female college students and their understanding of the risk for contracting an STI through fellatio. The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study is to explore female college students’ perceptions about oral sex, as well as the psychosocial and situational factors which may influence their participation with oral sex. Sixteen female college students, ages 18 to 24 years, participated in individual semi-structured interviews. Interviews focused on participants’ perceptions about their oral sex experiences and factors that influenced their participation in oral sex. Verbatim transcripts, demographic data, and sexual health data were the primary data for analysis. Thematic analysis was utilized to identify, analyze, and report themes within the collected data. Qualitative research software, NVivo 11 Starter for Windows, was used to facilitate the analysis of the data. The mean age of participants was 20.3 years. All of the participants had engaged in oral sex. Approximately 63% (n = 10) of the participants had 3 or more lifetime oral sex partners. Only 18.8% (n = 3) of participants reported using protective devices during oral sex. The majority of participants believed participation in oral sex within committed and casual relationships was the social norm. Six themes emerged from the data: defining virginity, comprehension and comfort, communication, social expectations and pressure, relationships, and equality. Overall, findings provide insight on young women’s views about oral sex related to virginity, risk, and social norms. Findings also give insight into the context of various relationships in which oral sex occurs. Lastly, findings suggest the need for better education on the risks associated with oral sex.

Included in

Nursing Commons



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