The act of ‘’sex’’ is defined in various ways by different people. But the first thing you should remember is that it is a healthy and natural activity. It is something most people enjoy and find meaningful. Some people believe that it only counts as sex if a penis goes into a vagina, but this isn’t true for everybody. Whether you are straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer or questioning, you have the right to decide what sex means to you.
There are lots of different ideas about what sex can be:
- Vaginal sex (penis-in-vagina intercourse)
- Oral sex (mouth-to-genital contact)
- Anal sex (penis-in-anus intercourse)
- Dry humping or genital rubbing (sexual play with clothes on)
- Fingering or hand jobs (hand-to-genital contact)
- Masturbation (pleasuring yourself)
Some people enjoy participating in some forms of sex, but not others. Other people feel more open to participating in different forms of sex to learn about what they like. Every person has different preferences and finds pleasure in different ways. It’s normal if what you like sexually is not exactly the same as someone else.
However you define it, being sexual with another person takes a lot of responsibility. Before you have sex, it’s important to think about what things you feel comfortable doing, and if there are consequences to them (like STIs or pregnancy). It’s just as important to think about what you DON’T feel comfortable doing. And if you’re in the middle of doing something that you thought you wanted to do, but changed your mind, that’s OK, too. You can stop anytime you want to.
If you are thinking about having sex, talk to your partner and look into ways that will keep you both safe — use contraceptives to protect yourselves from STIs and unwanted pregnancy.
Check out the Contraceptive Finder section to learn more about your options.