Sex. It’s a little word, but its meaning is anything but simple.
Understanding and respecting your own sexuality can help you “keep things simple” as you grow from a healthy teen to a healthy adult. Here are some things to keep in mind…
God intends sex to be saved for marriage.
In His wisdom, God established the right of a man and woman to join themselves in matrimony. Marriage is the foundation of the family and provides the means for nurturing children. It is a fundamental social institution for the well-being of humanity.
Sex puts you at risk of nasty STDs.
Many dangerous infections are transmitted through sex. Some are incurable, such as Herpes and AIDS. Others, including syphilis and gonorrhea, can lead to many different terrible complications including infertility (inability to have children).
Sex creates expectations. Sex may not mean the same thing to both partners. One may want sex to mean a relationship, commitment, or love. The other may simply expect sex will continue, as in “we had sex today and we’ll have it again tomorrow.”
Sex-too-soon can stop a relationship in its tracks. Because of different expectations from sex, there is often less honesty and less talking about each person’s true feelings. This leads to more wondering about the real feelings and intentions of the other person… and then comes the pressuring. One person is pressuring for more sex, and the other is pressuring for a relationship or a commitment. The result: instead of building friendship and genuine intimacy, there is more questioning, dishonesty, second-guessing, and pressuring. You can’t build trust in this situation.
Sex can take over a relationship. When there’s nothing else to build on, like shared experiences or interests, sex can become the major focus. A relationship may become just planning opportunities for sex instead of sharing fun and interesting experiences and simply enjoying each other’s company.
Sex can keep a bad relationship going that should have ended. Sex doesn’t necessarily mean love. Instead, it often confuses two persons’ understanding of what each sees in the other. On its own, sex can create the illusion of closeness, become a substitute for genuine emotional intimacy, and sometimes keep two people together who should break up. If you use sex to try to get love, or if you mistakenly believe your partner feels the same emotional commitment as you, you will likely be disappointed. From there, your impression of sex can quickly lose all its special meaning and beauty.
Think you’re in the know about sex? Here are some of the most popular myths out there, including some submitted by other teens. What’s the craziest sex myth you’ve ever heard? Tell us about it. If you’ve heard it, chances are someone out there believes it. Help us clear the air!
MYTH: Everyone is doing it!
REALITY: Less than half of all high school students have ever had sex. Don’t believe everything you hear. People lie, and exaggerate, and can talk a good game when it comes to sex. In the end, it doesn’t matter who’s telling the truth or not. The only truth that God’s perfect plan for you is to save sex for a marriage relationship.
MYTH: You’re a prude if you want to wait until you’re married.
REALITY: Actually, you’re being pretty smart. The truth is, most teens who’ve had sex say they wish they had waited longer. The younger a teen is when they first have sex, the more likely they are to regret it.
MYTH: Guys are always ready for sex.
REALITY: Every individual is different and nobody likes to be generalized. Guys may have a reputation for always thinking about sex, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into doing. The percentage of teens who have ever had sex has been on a steady decline, and more than half say they are still virgins.
MYTH: Girls never pressure guys to have sex.
REALITY: Again, there’s that generalization thing causing lots of trouble. Every person, and every combination of two people, is different. Pressure can come from anyone, regardless of gender, sexual experience, or age.
MYTH: You’ll marry the first person you have sex with.
REALITY: Sadly, this one is rarely true. Even though your first love or the first person you have sex with feels like the one you’ll love forever, the reality is that most first time sexual relationships are romantic but short-lived. Eight out of ten first time teen sexual relationships last 6 months or less and a fourth are one-time occurrences.
MYTH: Condoms prevent STDs.
REALITY: No, they don’t. Sometimes condoms break. Diseases like syphilis, herpes, and genital warts are transmitted by contact with lesions not covered by the condom. Nor are condoms 100 percent effective at protecting areas they do cover. So, the notion that a condom will protect you from the consequences of promiscuity is false.
MYTH: “Emergency Contraception” prevents STDs.
REALITY: Emergency contraception, such as the morning after pill (or “Plan B”) does nothing whatsoever to prevent STDs. If anything, it may even lead to the spread of disease by promoting promiscuity.
MYTH: “Emergency Contraception” prevents pregnancy.
REALITY: Emergency contraception, such as the morning after pill (or “Plan B”) cannot prevent the sperm from fertilizing the ovum—which is when conception occurs and pregnancy begins. Some argue that pregnancy does not begin until the fertilized embryo implants itself in the uterus. But this argument is a cruel rationalization in support of abortion at the earliest stages of life.
MYTH: You can’t get pregnant the first time you have sex.
REALITY: If you are ovulating, it doesn’t matter if it’s the first time or the hundredth time you’ve had sex, you can still get pregnant. You get pregnant when the sperm fertilizes the egg. Neither the sperm nor the egg care how many times you’ve had sex previously. The only way to avoid the risk of pregnancy is to not have sex at all.
MYTH: Girls can’t get pregnant during their period.
REALITY: There is a chance that you can get pregnant if you have sex during your period. Sperm stays alive for several days once in the vagina. Even if the last time you had sex was three days ago during your period, you could now be ovulating and you could get pregnant.
MYTH: You can’t get pregnant if you’ve never had a period.
REALITY: You may ovulate 14 days before your first period so it is possible to get pregnant even if you haven’t had a period yet.
MYTH: No method of birth control is 100 percent effective.
REALITY: Abstinence is a form of birth control and it is 100 percent effective. If you don’t have sex, you can’t get pregnant or get someone else pregnant.
MYTH: Drinking Mountain Dew will prevent pregnancy.
REALITY: The rumor that ingredients in Mountain Dew (or other sodas) lower the guy’s sperm count has been around for years. The simple truth is that drinking soda won’t prevent pregnancy.
Maybe you’ve heard some of these whoppers — or some even weirder ones. The truth is, you can get pregnant any time you have sex (unless you’re already pregnant).
The only 100 percent sure way to avoid pregnancy is to not have sex. This is called abstinence. Lots of people choose abstinence, whether or not they’ve had intercourse in the past. Half of high school students have never had sexual intercourse. Even those who started having sex when they were younger agree: it is better to wait. They are the voice of experience, worth listening to.
Facts About Abstinence
Not everybody is doing it.
In 2005, less than half of teens reported having ever had sex.
Teens are not embarrassed to say they are virgins.
Almost three-quarters of teens don’t think it’s embarrassing to admit they’ve never had sex.
Most teens who have had sex wish they had waited.
More than two out of three teens regret having had sex as early as they did.
Teens are eager for a strong abstinence message.
Ninety-four percent of teens say they want a strong message to abstain until at least after high school.
Approval of premarital sex among teen boys is declining.
Guys are wising up. They are less and less accepting of casual sex. The proportion of adolescent males aged 17-19 who disapprove of premarital sex when a couple does not plan to marry has increased significantly in recent years.
College freshmen are less likely to approve of casual sex. Sixty percent of college freshmen disagree that hooking up with a casual acquaintance is okay.
What Teens Are Saying About Abstinence
“I’m not having sex and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I don’t need sex to make my life complete — it’s just fine without it.”
Kelly, Virginia Beach, 17
“I decided not to have sex again until I get married or I’m with a girl I know I’m going to marry. I’m what you call a ‘born-again virgin’ and I’m fine with that – I don’t need the pressure of regret or the worry of maybe getting a girl pregnant.”
Rob, San Francisco, 17
“Call me a traditionalist, but sex is something special. If a guy went around giving a rose to every girl and then to you, you wouldn’t think much of it. But, if that guy had never given a rose to anyone before and then gives one to you, you feel special.”
Angela, Houston, 16
These days, what you don’t know about sex can hurt you, so you need the facts. Did you know these facts about…
• Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) affect men and women of all backgrounds and economic levels. The CDC estimates that 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.
• STDs can result in irreparable lifetime damage, including blindness, bone deformities, mental retardation, and death for infants infected by their mothers during gestation or birth.
• In women, STDs can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility, potentially fatal ectopic pregnancies, and cancer of the reproductive tract.
• Many STDs initially cause no symptoms, especially in women. Symptoms, when they do develop, may be confused with those of other diseases that are not transmitted through sexual contact.
• STDs can still be transmitted person to person even if they do not show symptoms.
• Health problems caused by STDs tend to be more severe for women than for men.
• 745,000 girls under the age of 20 get pregnant each year.
• 85 teen girls get pregnant each hour.
• 53 percent of Latina teens get pregnant at least once before turning 20
• 50 percent of guys have never considered what their lives would be like if they got a girl pregnant.
Sex and Abstinence
• 91 percent of teens think it’s important to get a strong message that they should wait to have sex.
• 75 percent of teens don’t think it’s embarrassing to admit to being a virgin.
• 60 percent of teens who have had sex wish they’d waited.
• 53 percent of teens say they’re still virgins.
What Teens Are Saying
Hector, 18: “As I was growing up, my parents, especially my mother, told me that making love was this very special thing. I always figured I’d wait until I was a lot older. But a friend fixed me up with a girl from another school last year, and it happened. This girl and I only went out twice. I hardly knew her, but she came on to me so strong that I kind of stopped using my head. I still can’t believe I let myself get pushed into it that way.”
Jake 17: “All the guys are players. Everyone’s cheating left and right… lots of girls too. No one trusts anyone. Something tells me there’s something better than this. When I look inside me, I don’t feel good about what I’m doing. And, although I’d never say it out loud, I gotta lot a respect for those girls who ain’t just putting out. That’s the kinda girl I want someday.”
Kelly, 16: “I was sixteen and a virgin when I started dating Brian. He was great looking, older, sophisticated. I thought about him every minute. I was completely in love. After a few weeks, we were having sex — in fact, we did it every time we had a chance to be together. At first, I was so happy being with him but then I got scared and upset. I was afraid he would leave me and I felt kind of guilty. Here I was sleeping with this guy, and I was starting to figure out that he didn’t feel about me like I did about him. I was so sure I loved him, but I realize now that I didn’t really know him. I didn’t know then what it means to really know a guy. The truth is that, after a while, the biggest thing between us was sex.”
Sandra, 17: “I always dreamed that I’d meet the perfect guy and that we’d be so much in love and have this wonderful romance. But I guess I was too anxious to be in love. If a boyfriend would tell me that having sex would deepen our relationship, I went along with it. But I would just end up getting hurt because after we had sex, we would end up having lots of problems and breaking up. This kept happening to me.”
John, 17: “When I was younger, I ruined a lot of relationships by pushing so hard for sex. I’m kind of ashamed when I look back on it. Sure, I took girls out for dinner or a movie… but my main goal was to get them to bed. I pushed pretty hard. Lots of nice girls didn’t want to go out with me after a few dates. When I look back, I’m embarrassed about what they must have thought of me.”
Melanie, 19: “I think on the topic of sex I’m starting to understand it more and more as I get older. I have really changed my views about sex and am quite different about how I choose to be with someone. I wasn’t really happy when I was involved with someone and we were intimate, but I still did it. Now, I can’t even get close to doing that and it will probably take a long time for me to want to even think about it! I really need to feel connected and cannot have a relationship like that any more knowing how unhappy it truly made me.”
Think About It.
A sexual relationship is a heavy responsibility, with many emotional and physical consequences. Sex can lead to pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, and responsibilities for which you are unprepared. The best advice: wait until you are committed to a lifelong love relationship in marriage with that special person who feels the same way you do. It will be worth the wait for both of you.