Sexuality - Sex
Times have changed a great deal since a few decades ago. People are experimenting with sex at younger and younger ages. American culture is saturated with sexual imagery; however, sex is often presented in a taboo (forbidden) light. Often times young adults are drawn to engaging in activities that are considered taboo to them. On the other hand, abstinence, a conscious choice to abstain from sex, is gaining favor with young people. More and more teens are choosing to remain virgins until marriage. This includes boys and girls. Ideally, sex should be based on loving and tender feelings for a partner. Many people have sex based on lust rather than love. There is nothing wrong with this, if both partners consent to and enjoy the sex, but it's usually even more fulfilling if it's based on a loving union.
TALK TO SOMEONE
Teens are often the worst offenders in terms of perpetuating prejudice about homosexuality, perhaps due to pressures in society to "be normal" at all costs. As a result, people who suspect they may be gay can feel desperately lonely and depressed. Many teens who attempt suicide do so because they are gay and feel they have no one to turn to.
Teens who think they might be gay or lesbian should talk to a counselor. Counselors will help a person work through his or her feelings. If it isn't possible to talk with someone at school or with another adult, the Gay and Lesbian National Hotline can be reached at 1-888-843-4564. Hotline representatives can answer all questions and make referrals to local area agencies. The Hetrick-Martin Institute in New York is a resource center for gay teens, and it can be reached at 212-674-2400.
Sexual intercourse can occur when a man is sexually aroused and his penis is erect. He slides his penis into the vagina of a consenting partner. The aroused female will produce vaginal secretions that will make it easier for the man's penis to enter her. He will move his penis in and out of her vagina in a rhythmic fashion until he ejaculates (reaches orgasm, the highest point, or climax, of sexual excitement).
Women often have orgasms during sex as well. Women usually have clitoral orgasms, but they can have vaginal orgasms, too. (For many women, it takes practice to learn to orgasm from sexual intercourse.) It is important that there is open communication between the partners so that each can share desires with the other. It's hard for both women and men to orgasm if they are tense and nervous.
Choosing to enter into a full-fledged sexual relationship that includes intercourse should never be done lightly. Both the man and woman should be mature enough and responsible enough to discuss birth control and protection from sexually transmitted diseases (see sections below) before taking that step. It is also essential to discuss one's expectations as well as how a pregnancy will be handled (see section on pregnancy) if one occurs.
Oral sex is often practiced as an alternative to intercourse. Oral sex includes fellatio (pronounced fell-AY-shee-o) and cunnilingus. Fellatio is the stimulation of a man's genitals with the mouth of a partner. Cunnilingus is the stimulation of a woman's genitals with the mouth of a partner. Oral sex does not carry with it the risk of an unplanned pregnancy, as sexual intercourse does. However, it does not protect against sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), including AIDS, because there is contact with a person's bodily fluids. When engaging in either form of oral sex, both partners should take precautions to protect themselves from STDs by using either a condom (for men) or a dental dam (a rubber shield that dentists use to isolate a specific tooth when doing work on it; used to practice safe oral sex on women).
Masturbation is the safest kind of sex. It is pleasuring oneself, or solo sex. It is totally natural and healthy. Most people do it, but they don't like to admit it because of the negative portrayal put upon it by society. Girls can masturbate by stimulating their clitoris or putting their fingers inside of their vaginas. Boys can masturbate by stroking or rubbing their penis. Some people believe that masturbating too often is dangerous. This is a myth. As long as something feels good, is carried out in private, and doesn't involve hurting anyone or anything, masturbation is a healthy way to explore and indulge sexual fantasies and impulses without the risk of unwanted pregnancy or STDs.