If and when we want to reduce the risks of STIs as much as possible, while still engaging in sex, then:
Read the rest at Scarleteen here.
(P.S. When we say “safer sex,” we use that term as it was originally developed and intended, to describe the choices and practices to help reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections, not to describe birth control or contraception. When we’re talking about those things, we’ll say birth control or contraception.)
Many people — and probably most — don’t grow up knowing how to arrange for or manage their own healthcare. For some, that’s because our parents, guardians, or other family members did it for us. For others, it’s because we never got regular healthcare so we could learn how it works. Some of us only went to the doctor, clinic, or emergency room when something was very very wrong; some of us had yearly check-ups with the same doctor, in the same place and knew we (or more likely our parents or guardians) could call the doctor’s office any time we were sick.
Whatever your healthcare was like growing up, you may be responsible for it now or very soon. Sexual healthcare is a kind of care that people don’t want parents or guardians involved in, so it may be that seeking out sexual healthcare is where you find you first need to navigate your healthcare on your own.
We know that can be daunting or intimidating. But managing your healthcare mostly just comes down to the following things:
- Doing some research.
- Being and staying organized.
- Communicating clearly and respectfully, asking questions and taking responsibility for gathering and keeping the information you’re given.
- Recognizing that your health matters and is very important, and keeping that strongly in mind, and in practice, in all your interactions with healthcare providers.
Those are the barest of basics. What follows are specifics so that you can hopefully feel more capable and less frazzled as you start managing your own healthcare, or find some helps to troubleshoot care that’s not working out for you in any way. What the healthcare you get, of any kind, is like, and how it’ll go, will depend on your own health, the kind of healthcare you have access to, and your personal preferences about the kind and frequency of healthcare you get. How it all goes will also often have just as much to do with you as it does a provider.
This is the well-being of your own body and mind we’re talking about here: being able to navigate the healthcare system, to whatever extent you choose to do so and are able to do so, is a crucial skill for maintaining or improving that well-being. So, have a read about choosing a doctor, calling to get an appointment, preparing for an appointment and getting the most out of your interactions with healthcare providers and healthcare support staff.
Have a read at Scarleteen here!
The guy I’m sleeping with really wants to have PIV sex with me, but he won’t wear a condom because he’s Roman Catholic. Everything else we’ve done has been amazing and I really want to do it, but I’m terrified of getting pregnant and I’ve already had a scare that I haven’t told him about. I’m on the pill now, but I know that it isn’t 100% effective. Would it be really wrong to try and get him to change his mind about condoms? I’m religious too and I’d hate to make him do anything that would go against his faith, but the idea of getting pregnant scares me so much that I have nightmares about it, and since we’re not really together I don’t know what he’d do.Heather Corinna replies:
You don’t want to engage in sex without those things.
So, your limit, a limit you need to make clear to him, is that you won’t engage in sex without the things that reduce the risks you aren’t comfortable with: that includes condoms.
You can say something like, "I respect your beliefs, wants and limits here, but this is what I need in order to feel okay engaging in that kind of sex, just like you’re saying going without condoms is what you need. I know your limit, and now you know mine: now let’s talk about where we both want to go from here.”
Then he gets to decide what he wants to do, and what is or isn’t in alignment with his own limits.
It may be that he feels it’s more important to him to have sex without condoms or other risk-reduction than it is to have sex with you — whether or not that’s based on his faith. I say that because Roman Catholicism doesn’t support sex (of any kind, not just intercourse) outside of marriage, sex for purposes besides procreation, or engaging in sex where someone is using the pill, so it’s hard for me to tell how much this all really is or isn’t about religious doctrine, since he’s being awfully inconsistent here.
Regardless, if he decides he’d rather hold his line about sex with no condoms than compromise with that so he can have sex with you, that’s okay (and it’s okay no matter what his desire to not use condoms is based in). He gets to feel that way and he gets to decide to only have sex with people who don’t want to use condoms or other forms of contraception and risk reduction.
Or, it may be that he decides that his desire to have sex with you takes bigger precedence over his belief that it’s not within the bounds of his religion to engage in sex using condoms, and he may decide he’d rather use condoms than not have sex with you. He gets to do that, too, if that’s how he feels and what he finds he feels best about.
(I’d also say that you should figure that someone who insists on not using condoms with a partner probably poses higher STI risks. Because if they have had any other partners before, they probably did not use condoms with them. So, with someone like this, I’d say just from an STI-safety standpoint alone, going without condoms for any oral, vaginal or anal sex is probably a bad idea. Personally, in a situation like this, I’d just be graciously saying it was time for me and someone like this not to continue to be sexual, since what I needed for emotional and physical safety obviously isn’t compatible with what they believe in and want to do. No harm, no foul, everyone is still awesome, but I’m going to just exempt myself from the whole situation and move on along.)
No matter what he decides, you can both set your own lines AND not make anyone do anything they’re not uncomfortable with when you’re just clear that, like they have given lines, so do you, and you want and intend to respect both of them. In other words, he’s set his. Now you’re going to set yours. And so long as you both respect what the other decides, and neither of you attempts to change the other’s mind about each of your limits, it’s all good.
Read the rest here at Scarleteen
My boyfriend and I, both 18, are very comfortable with each other. We took things slow, somewhat due to my discomfort in the religious section and partly to make it more genuine. Skip forward a bit and we are delving into the world of sexual activity. I want to steer clear of PIV sex for pregnancy reasons and virginity reasons. But the other day we were exploring each others’ bodies and before we knew it we were having anal sex. Thankfully my boyfriend used much lotion in the absence of lube and took it very slow. We both enjoyed it and were even able to switch positions once or twice with little to no difficulty. My question for the staff of Scarleteen is simply this, is there something I’m missing? From word of mouth anal is supposedly unpleasant, unsafe, and should be avoided; but my boyfriend and I really enjoyed ourselves. We want take a day and just explore the possibilities but is there such thing as too much or things that I should be wary about before we even consider more anal sex? Thanks.Heather Corinna replies:
You know, one of the neatest, most interesting things about sex, from my perspective, is that what people do and don’t enjoy is so diverse. One person’s least favorite sexual activity is another person’s favorite. I think that’s really cool.
All of our bodies, sexualities and situations are so different that, for the most part, we can only really find out what we like (or don’t) by following our own interests and feelings, then by experimenting and exploring as feels right for us and any of our partners.
Some people love anal sex. Some people love it who are on the receiving end, as it were, others love it who are on the other side of things, and some people love pegging a partner and being the receptive partner. Some people don’t like it at all, again, be they a receptive partner or the person with a body part or toy who’s doing the entry with a partner. Some people have liked it a lot with one partner, but didn’t like it at all with another. Some people like it at one time of life, but not another. Just like with other kinds of sex, there are also some people who just can’t do it, due to certain limitations of their unique bodies.
What other people experience with sexual activities can sure be interesting, and it can tell you many things, but something it can’t tell you is what you like and enjoy.
The real difference with how anal sex is often talked about is generally that penis-in-vagina intercourse has a longstanding cultural stamp of approval while anal sex hasn’t had that, largely due to religious ideas, mythology about the anus and anal sex, and people’s negative feelings about their bottoms. This is also about historical shifts and changes. The way anal sex is often talked about now used to be how oral sex was talked about. Then oral sex became a more common or popular sexual activity, and one more people talked about as something they did in their sexual lives, so the stigma with it decreased. I highly suspect the same will happen with anal sex in time, particularly if we also get less homophobic as a culture, since many negative attitudes and fears about anal sex often have roots in fears and ignorance around homosexuality.
As far as what you hear about pleasure with anal sex goes, we know from many studies and anecdotes that a lot of people don’t find penis-in-vagina intercourse pleasurable, or the best thing of ever. But that cultural stamp of approval versus a cultural stigma also means we hear more about how anal sex is unpleasant for some people than we hear about how vaginal intercourse is (even though I’d say that based on the data we have, just as many people probably don’t like one as people who don’t like the other). It’s way more loaded for people to talk a lot about how they don’t like the one sexual activity (vaginal intercourse) often held up as the only kind of sex, or the only truly acceptable, sanctified or “loving” sex, so we’re going to hear more negatives about other kinds of sex just because people have more cultural permission to say they don’t like those.
And if you’ve heard some stuff about how the anus is only “designed” for “one way,” meaning that it’s only designed for things leaving the body, not entering it, do know that those are value statements, not statements based in sound science or current medical data. Especially since there’s no one on earth who has ever been able to identify, let alone consult with, the designer of our bodies or their parts or see their apparent blueprints that would tell us what a body part like the anus is “supposed” to be used for. Besides, we already know that on top of the anus and rectum being a key part of your digestive system that eliminates waste, is is also a body part people sometimes engage as part of their sexual lives and behaviours. That’s nothing even remotely new.
So, you’ve heard or read that some other people don’t find anal sex pleasant. That’s fine: we all get to like the sexual things we like and not like the things we don’t. Hooray for that!
You’re saying that you liked it, though, and this is about you.
Read the rest at Scarleteen here.