Sex, sexuality and sexual health: what you need to know
Sex between two people who deeply care for each other is a wonderful and exciting thing. But before you start having sex, or even if you’re already sexually active, there are some things you need to know and precautions you need to take that can have a big effect on your health and your life. Plus, know that we’re here for you to talk to for information, advice and anything else you might need.
Facts about sex
Having unprotected sex can expose you to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, trichomoniasis, human papillomavirus (HPV, the cause of most cervical cancer) and HIV/AIDS. At this time, there is no cure of HIV/AIDS, although a vaccine is in the testing phase.
2) Safe sex: Always use a condom
Condoms (male or female versions) are the safest method to reduce the risk of STDs and should always be used when having sex. Condoms also are a highly-effective, but not foolproof, method of birth control.
3) Always use birth control.
Ten percent of teen girls in the U.S. get pregnant each year, the vast majority of these unplanned. There are many methods of birth control: condoms, pills, injections, IUDs, diaphragms and contraceptive implants or patches. Please come in and talk with us about which method would be best for you. Remember: withdrawal (when a male withdraws his penis from a female before ejaculation) IS NOT a form of birth control.
The “safest sex” is between the same two partners. The more sexual partners you have, the more at risk you are for contracting sexual diseases.
5) Date rape.
Date (or acquaintance) rape is a serious problem for teens. If you are ever forced to have sex (even if you like the other person), that can be considered date rape.
Some things you can do to reduce your risk of date rape:
- Make sure your date understands that “no” means “no”
- Date in groups instead of alone
- Make sure you know your date well and can trust him/her
- Avoid drugs and alcohol (a high percentage of date rape occurs when one or both partners has been drinking or using drugs)
- Have an “out” if a dating situation starts to get out of control
6) Gender identification.
You might have questions about your heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality. Or you might know exactly which gender(s) you identify with and are attracted to. But whether you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, being loved and accepted for you are is the most important.
Although masturbation is a topic few people feel comfortable talking about, it’s a normal and healthy part of human sexuality. At Westchester Health Pediatrics, we don’t discourage masturbation but recommend that you limit it to a private place (for example, bedroom or bathroom).
Hopefully you or your sexual partner won’t have an unplanned pregnancy, but if so, and you feel abortion is your best option, here are some facts:
- Only a handful of states grant minors (under 18) access to abortion without their parents’ knowledge or permission.
- The majority of state laws mandate that one or both parents be notified or give their consent before an abortion can be performed.
- If you’re under 18 and live in one of the states that require parental involvement, you have two choices: you could travel to a state with less stringent laws or you could file a petition requesting a judge’s approval, called a judicial bypass.
Obviously, the best way to avoid an unplanned pregnancy is to always use birth control, or abstain from
It’s ok to say no to sex
Although it may seem like it, not everyone is having sex. There is nothing wrong with deciding you want to wait. Here are some suggestions that can help you stick with your decision:
- Plan ahead how you are going to say “no” so that you can say it confidently and mean it
- Avoid situations that can lead to sex
- Don’t drink alcohol or use drugs. This will help you make clearer choices about sex. Most teenage pregnancies and STDs occur because the teen was drinking or using drugs.
We’re here to listen, and to help you make smart choices
You may think you need to have sex at this point in your life because everybody else is doing it, or because your boyfriend/girlfriend wants you to, or because you yourself want to experience what it’s like. At Westchester Health Pediatrics, we understand (amazingly, we were once teenagers too) and we want you to know that we care about you and the choices you make, as well as about your health. If you need us, we’re here for you, no matter what.
What is discussed with us stays with us
Please come in and talk to us about any aspect of sex or sexuality — we will keep it confidential. And if together we decide you need birth control, a pregnancy test, a procedure, or just some sound advice, we’ll help you choose the next steps.
Most of all, we want to help you be healthy and happy in any way we can.