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Info For Teens

Myths and Facts About Sex

When it comes to having sex, many teens — and adults too — have trouble separating fact from mythology. Here are some common myths and facts about having sex.

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    Does oral sex count as sex?

    The myth is that only vaginal intercourse counts as having sex. In fact, there is no one definition of "having sex." For some people sex is penis-in-vagina intercourse. For some people, sex is penis-in-anus intercourse. For some people, sex is intercourse with a sex toy. For some people, sex is genital rubbing without intercourse.  For some people, sex includes oral/genital contact.  For some, sex includes masturbation. The possibilities are many. For most experts (like us), it includes all of the above.

    People decide for themselves what it means to them to "have sex." To avoid confusion when talking about having sex with sex partners, itís important to clearly communicate your limits and expectations and to be sure you understand theirs.

     
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    Are most teens having vaginal intercourse?

    The myth is that most teens have had vaginal intercourse. Surprise, surprise: most havenít! The truth is that only about half of high school students have ever had intercourse and the average age when people start having sex is about age 17. Even once they start having sex, most teens don't have sex frequently. So it's "normal" to wait until you're older to have sex.

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    Can I get pregnant the first time I have sexual intercourse? Can I get pregnant if I donít have it that often?

    The myth is that a girl cannot get pregnant the first time she has vaginal intercourse. This is not true. If youíre having unprotected intercourse you can get pregnant ó whether it is the first time or the one hundred and first time! Itís even possible for a girl to get pregnant before she has her first period ó this is because an egg is released before menstruation can happen.

    Itís also possible to get pregnant whether you have intercourse often or only once in a while. It's all about the sperm hooking up with the egg. If that happens, pregnancy can occur. So if youíre sexually active, it's important to use birth control if you don't want to get pregnant.

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    Can a doctor tell if Iím a virgin?

    The myth is that a doctor, or anyone else who looks at womanís vulva, can tell if sheís a virgin. This isn't true. Even pelvic exams can't reveal if you've had vaginal intercourse or if you masturbate, unless there are specific signs. A health care provider may be able to tell a woman is not a virgin if she has

    • symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection such as herpes or genital warts
    • semen in her vagina from a recent act of intercourse
    • torn tissue from violent or rough sex

    So usually, the only way a nurse or doctor will know if a woman's had sex is if the woman tells her. It's important to be honest with health care providers so they can get an accurate picture of your health and needs. It can help health care providers so they can determine if it's a good idea to test for sexually transmitted infections, prescribe birth control, recognize pregnancy symptoms, or talk with clients who have problems with their sexual relationship.

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    Can I get pregnant if I have sex when Iím having my period?

    The myth is that it is impossible for a woman to get pregnant from vaginal intercourse during her period.  It's not likely for most women, but it can happen. Itís possible for a woman to get pregnant from intercourse during her period, especially if her menstrual cycle is brief or irregular.

    And of course, another important concern of having unprotected intercourse ó anytime during the month ó is that it offers no protection against sexually transmitted infections.

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    Do condoms really work?

    The myth started by opponents of birth control is that condoms donít really work. The fact is that, when used correctly every time, condoms are 98 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. And condoms are the best way to avoid sexually transmitted infections for people who are sexually active. Most breakage happens because condoms are used incorrectly. In fact, properly lubricating a condom helps reduce the likelihood of the condom breaking. However, only water- or silicone-based lubricants such as KY jelly, Astro Glide, Slippery Stuff, etc., can be used with latex condoms.



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