These are some of the questions we’ve been asked about sex. To see the answers, click on the question.
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What counts as losing your virginity?
This is a very common question from youth. However, it’s complicated because virginity is socially constructed. This means that virginity is tied to ideas people have about the value of sexuality.
First off, virginity is not a medical term. There is no way for a doctor, nurse practitioner, or partner to tell whether you are a virgin or not.
In some cultures, it is thought the breaking of a hymen through intercourse means a woman or girl is no longer a virgin. However, some girls may not be born with a hymen, a thin piece of tissue that covers part of the vagina. Sometimes, it may become completely or partially broken for many reasons (e.g. using tampons).
There are times the breaking of a hymen during penetration causes slight bleeding. Some people consider this evidence that a girl or woman has “lost” her virginity. This is a myth. Blood may appear—or it may not! An incomplete tearing may mean spots of blood appear even the second time a girl or woman is penetrated. Some people with vaginas may not bleed at all.
The reality is, virginity is what you make of it. It looks different for different people. Some people consider the first time they had penetrative sex as the moment they “lost” their virginity. Someone may be sexually assaulted, but still consider themselves a virgin. Some individuals may prefer not to put any value on their first time.
Sex can take many forms. The most important thing is that you feel like having or postponing sex because you want to and not because of something society says.
Is it safe to swallow?
When people say “swallow” they generally mean swallowing ejaculate (semen) during oral sex. Generally, yes, it is safe to swallow. But all forms of sexual activity carry some level of risk.
Semen can carry diseases like HIV, and a penis can have other infections like chlamydia or gonorrhoea. The risk of contracting HIV during oral sex is low, although the risk may be higher if there are open sores in your mouth or you have tears in your gums (e.g. from a recent dentist visit).
Remember that any infection you can catch in your vagina or anus, you can also catch in your mouth. All these places have the same tissue, known as mucous membranes.
However, there are ways of minimizing the risks associated with oral sex. Using a condom if you are performing oral sex on a penis will reduce the risk of getting an infection. A dam can provide protection against oral sex, whether it is performed on the vulva or anus.
It’s also wise to get tested for STIs on a regular basis.
Some people may notice that semen upsets their stomach for a short time. This is perfectly normal.
In fact, semen contains some protein, minerals, and sugars, although it has yet to be classed a superfood.
Does size matter?
There are many ways to have fantastic sex without having a large penis—and not everyone thinks sex with a large penis is pleasurable. People have different preferences.
The average size for an erect penis is 5.5 inches, which means that many people have smaller penises and many people have larger. Some are curved, some are straight.
No one should ever shame someone for their penis size, regardless of its length or girth. Unfortunately, a lot of pressure can be put on people with penises. The construction of masculinity is often tied to penis size, which is probably the result of our patriarchal society more so than whether larger penises make for better sex. At one time, psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud tried to convince people that vaginal orgasms were the only mature orgasms a woman could have—talk about a lot of pressure!
The reality is, many people with vaginas do not reach orgasm through penetration alone, making oral sex and manual stimulation useful skills for partners to have, regardless of the size of their penises—or whether they don’t have penises.
It is worth noting that for penile/vaginal sex, the first part of the vagina often feels the most sensation!
Does sex hurt for a guy?
Usually, vaginal sex does not hurt the penis. There are rare cases that it would, but generally it does not.
If someone is on the receiving end of anal sex, however, they may experience some discomfort without adequate lubrication and stretching prior to the insertion of a penis or toy. Gently stretching the anus and using lots of lube can make anal sex more pleasurable and reduce the risk of tears.
Sex should feel good! Communication with your partner is extremely important to ensure that sex is comfortable.
If you are experiencing pain when you have sex, you may want to see a doctor or nurse practitioner to rule out any medical issues.
Will a woman bleed the first time she has sex?
Sometimes people bleed the first time they have intercourse, but this does not happen to everyone. Most importantly, with lots of lubrication, and by using a finger or a toy before inserting anything large into the vagina, you can minimize bleeding and tearing.
Bleeding can even happen after the first time, but it should be minimal. Increasing lubrication should help. If the problem continues, talk to your medical professional.
At any time, if you feel uncomfortable or in pain, tell your partner.
Should people really have anal?
If a person thinks it could be pleasurable, then yes they should explore anal sex! Not everyone is interested or excited about having anal sex, but many people are. It is completely healthy whether you are straight or identify as LGBTQII.
If you are interested in having anal sex, educate yourself. If you are playing with anal toys, make sure they have a flared base or string to ensure they don’t disappear! If a toy slips far into your intestine, it could get stuck, making for an awkward emergency room visit. Anal play with fingers and penises should be done with lots of lubricant, patience, and relaxation.
Can girls cum?
Yes! People with vaginas can cum in almost the same way as people with penises. Sometimes cum refers to having an orgasm, but “cumming” is something we also call ejaculation.
Many people with vaginas can experience both orgasm and ejaculation. You may have heard of squirting or gushing. The vagina can ejaculate a liquid that is thought to be produced by the urethral sponge, an erectile tissue that surrounds the urethra. This might happen when the G-spot is stimulated. Not all people with vaginas squirt, but it is certainly a normal experience for many, possibly 10 to 50 percent of women. They may mistake it for urine, but ejaculate is not the same as pee. A towel or blanket can make cleanup easier.
Stimulating the vulva, clitoris, or vaginal opening can also cause orgasms, depending on the person. It is different for everyone.
When should you start having sex?
This is a complicated question and depends on you.
You should be able to discuss your needs and desires, as well as manage potential risks like pregnancy and STIs. Can you take responsibility if you do catch a STI or get pregnant?
According to Canadian law, no one under the age of 12 should have a sexual partner. (Masturbation or pleasuring yourself is always an option.) There are various age limitations on certain partners and activities until you reach 18, which is considered the age of majority. If you have any questions, contact your local Sexual Health Centre.
Different people have different ideas about what sex is. Do you want to start having oral sex before you have intercourse? Do you think you only lose your virginity if you have penetration with a penis? If you have been sexually assaulted, can you still consider yourself a virgin? These are all very personal questions only you can answer.
Find an adult you trust and have a good, honest conversation. Do your family’s personal beliefs matter to you? Your religious beliefs?
The age will be different for every individual and only you can decide when it is time to begin having sex.
When in doubt, remember you can always explore pleasure on your own, without any risk of STIs!
How do two girls have sex? Does it feel the same?
Two people with vaginas can have sex in a lot of different ways, just like everyone else!
When we talk about sex, we sometimes assume sex refers to intercourse involving a penis and vagina. But no matter whether you have a penis or a vagina, there are many ways to feel pleasure and have sex.
Challenge yourself to think about what sex looks like. It can involve oral sex, or penetration with fingers, toys, or penises. Beyond that, you might even consider “dry humping” as sex even though your clothes are still on!
Sex may also change if you have disabilities. Can someone who is paralyzed have sex? Absolutely. In fact, other areas of the body may compensate for those with no or reduced sensation.
Finally, sex feels different for everyone. Never assume your partner likes certain things. Ask what he or she likes. Or take the time to experiment! You may both discover new sensations.
What is the G-spot?
The G-spot, or Grafenberg spot, is an area of pleasure for many women.
To search out the G-spot, insert a finger into the vagina. When the area is stimulated, it will create a bumpy surface that feels different from the rest of the vaginal wall. It will be near the front, since it’s close to the urethra.
When the G-spot is stimulated, either through penetration, a finger, or with a sex toy curved to hit that particular area, it can be a source of excitement for many women. Other women may not notice anything special about this area, and this is okay too. It does not mean they are dysfunctional; it just means they are not sensitive there.
There has been a lot of controversy over the mythical G-spot! Scientific research has tried to find out where it is, how big it is, and whether it is related to ejaculation in women. Regardless of what science says, trying to find areas of pleasure can make for your own enjoyable research!
Some women may find the G-spot increases enjoyment from penetration; other women may still need stimulation of the clitoris to reach orgasm. It will be different for all people with vaginas.
Do girls masturbate?
Anyone can masturbate or have sex by themselves.
Unfortunately, society often makes young girls feel as though they are not sexual. This is simply not true. Girls may enjoy masturbating as much as boys, who are often celebrated for masturbating frequently. As long as it is done in a private place, like your bedroom or bathtub, it is something that can be done as often as you like.
Masturbating or pleasuring yourself can be the best way to learn about your body. It can empower you to know what feels good. And it is completely safe, meaning you cannot hurt yourself or catch any infections!
However, it is just as normal to not enjoy masturbating. You may go through periods when you choose to masturbate more or less often.
Can you have sex during your period?
There is no medical reason not to have sex during menstruation. Just remember that you can still get pregnant or catch an STI, so protection is necessary to reducing your risk of both an unplanned pregnancy and infection.
Having sex during menstruation (especially during days of heavy flow) can be a bit more messy, so a towel or extra blanket can prevent stains on good bed sheets or other surfaces.
It is completely normal to desire sex at any time, including during menstruation. Some women may even become more aroused while they’re menstruating.
Orgasms, through masturbation or sex with a partner, can reduce symptoms like headaches and cramps. When you have an orgasm, your body releases endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers.
If you do have your period, remember to remove tampons on internal cups like the Diva Cup before any penetration. These should not be worn during penetrative sex, although they may prove useful for mutual masturbation or oral sex.
How do you have the best orgasm?
Everyone comes to orgasm in different ways, so there is no special secret to always having the best orgasm. There are a few tricks, though.
First off, masturbate and discover what works for you. You can then share that information with your partner—or show them, as many partners are aroused by watching someone pleasure themselves.
Secondly, communicate! Since everybody is different, you’ll have to commuicate with each other about what works and what doesn’t. Some people like to have certain areas touched, but only a certain way. Sometimes direct pressure is too much; sometimes it is just right. You’ll only know if you and your partner talk—or figure out another way to communicate (e.g. moaning).
Just remember that even if you have the technique right, there may be times when it is difficult to have an orgasm. If you are sick or stressed, you may take longer to orgasm or may not be able to orgasm at all. Some prescriptions or medical conditions may even affect a person’s arousal.
Finally, orgasms are different for everyone. Some people, especially women, may experience multiple orgasms while other people may feel intense pleasure but never really feel that final release.
Often, the best orgasms happen when you feel safe, comfortable, and have a partner you trust. After that, it is all a matter of experimentation.
Does it hurt to finger yourself?
No, it should not hurt. Fingering yourself—or inserting a finger in the vagina during masturbation—is something that should feel good, if not great. If you do notice some pain, make sure your fingernails have no sharp edges. Try using lubrication, especially one without added fragrance.
Sometimes anxiety can cause the muscles of the vagina to clench so tightly, it is impossible to insert something (finger, toy, or penis) or make insertion incredibly painful. If you feel anxious or stressed while trying to insert something, this may be a possibility. Touching the entrance of the vagina may help those muscles relax enough for you to continue fingering yourself or inserting a toy or penis.
See your doctor or nurse practitioner if any fingering or penetration hurts.
Why is sex pleasurable?
Sex can be pleasurable both physically and emotionally. Many nerves in the human body are stimulated during sex, and this can create joyous feelings.
Sex of all kinds (masturbation, oral sex, using your fingers and hands, penetration, etc.) can be a fun and intimate experience with yourself or with sexual partners.
For many, the clitoris and the tip of the penis are the most pleasurable spots to stimulate. Some spots that may feel good during sexual activity are the anus, testicles, and labia. Other spots on the body that may not be associated with sexual pleasure (like the inner thighs or ear) may cause a person to feel turned on.
Although there are risks with sexual activity, sex is a normal and healthy part of most people’s lives. Many humans find pleasure in sex for their entire lives, even if they are 100 years old!
It’s important to explore your sexuality when you feel comfortable, to always say no when you are not interested, and to respect your partner if they don’t want to engage in sexual activity.
If you squirt when you have an orgasm, will you always squirt?
Some women squirt, or ejaculate, when they have an orgasm. Not all women squirt, though, and amounts may change over time. Sometimes, there can be so much ejaculation, a woman may think she has urinated or peed. Other women may not even notice whether they ejaculate.
Some people squirt every time they have an orgasm; some people squirt right before they have one, and some people will never squirt. All of these scenarios are perfectly normal!
Finally, your body will likely change over time, and so will whether you squirt or not.
If I have oral sex, does that mean I am a virgin?
Virginity is a socially constructed term with no clear definition. Some people consider themselves virgins after oral sex. Some don’t.
However, some sexually transmitted and blood borne infections can be passed through oral sex, so be sure to protect yourself and your partner with a dental dam or condom.
Why do we learn about abstinence or “saving yourself” for marriage in school?
There are a lot of ways we talk about virginity.
Sometimes, you will hear phrases like, “Did they take your virginity?” or “Did you git it up to them?” and also “Will your father give you away at your wedding?”
All of these statements talk about people (usually women) using words that suggest women and girls belong to someone who can be given to men. We see these attitudes in European history, and it is important to note these attitudes are not universal. Many cultures have different ideas about women, sexuality, and their rights.
While delaying sexual activity may be helpful for some people, it’s also not realistic for everyone. Not everyone wants to wait until marriage to have sex. And not everyone wants to get married!
Education that teaches abstinence only often increases rates of unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted and blood borne infections.
The best sexual health education encourages people to make decisions for themselves. Sometimes this means having multiple partners before marriage. Sometimes this means waiting for sexual activity after marriage.
When we decide to have sex is a personal matter, and not something that should be decided by a teacher.