This section is intended to help you have a great sex life – and a safe one.
It’s important to remember that sex carries with it some real dangers, notably:
* unwanted pregnancy
* sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
* occasionally, cancer
* sometimes, severe emotional distress.
On the other hand, sex brings enormous satisfaction: comfort and happiness to millions of people.
So, we want you to be able to enjoy its benefits, whether you’re 18 or 80.
But whatever your age group, we’d like to stress to you that the key to a safe and rewarding sexual relationship with another person is communication.
For centuries, people haven’t communicated about sex, especially in Britain! They just ’did it’, and hoped for the best.
Very often, things went wrong and one or other partner ended up feeling frustrated and bitter. These days, things are rapidly changing. It’s now possible to communicate quite frankly with your partner about sexual matters – so it’s easy to work together to make everything more fulfilling, and safer too.
We’ll try and show you how you can communicate, and keep yourself safe, throughout the various age groups of your life.
In your teenage years
The teenage years are not an easy time – especially if you don’t know much about sex.
Many people, both male and female, feel highly sexed at this time. In particular, males are likely to feel a desperate need to have climaxes.
Among teenage boys, the average number of orgasms per week is higher in this age group, than it is at any other period of life.
For a lot of teenagers, the answer to this burgeoning desire is to masturbate.
This is particularly so in boys, most of whom masturbate a great deal during the teen years.
The important thing to realise is that this is perfectly normal. We can assure you that if you consult medical textbooks, you’ll find that – contrary to what many young people imagine – there’s no disease or health problem that can be caused by masturbation.
It’s a totally harmless activity that relieves frustration and helps you relax and sleep well.
Most importantly, masturbation is virtually the only form of sexual activity that can’t give you a sexually transmitted infection!
Also, it can’t make anyone pregnant. So, it’s a safe form of sex.
During the mid-teenage years, the subject of sexual orientation begins to rear its head.
In other words:
* are you ’straight’ (heterosexual)?
* are you gay?
* are you bisexual?
Our advice to you on this topic is simple. Don’t let anyone ’railroad’ you into any decisions. Your parents, and other adults, will almost invariably expect you to be ’straight’. But that might not be the right solution for you.
So, if you have any uncertainties about your orientation, talk to your friends about it, provided you feel that they will respect your confidence.
Don’t hesitate to go and consult experienced advisors, like those at the Brook Advisory Service for Young People.
If necessary, seek information from gay, lesbian and transgender organisations – such as the London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard on 020 7837 7324.
Above all, take your time, and don’t be rushed. Many people don’t decide on their sexual orientation until they’re well past 20.
At some time in your teens, you’re probably going to feel that you should make a decision about losing your virginity.
In the UK, at present the average age for first having sex is about 18. But again, please don’t be rushed into this – for instance, by ’peer pressure’ (in other words, pressure from friends, classmates and others of your age).
There’s nothing dreadful about deciding to postpone sexual intercourse for a while!
By putting it off, you achieve the following:
* you protect yourself against STIs
* you avoid any risk of pregnancy
* if you’re a girl, you reduce the risk of getting cancer of the cervix.
So, before you decide to embark on your first sexual relationship, think things over and obtain as much information as you can about the benefits and the dangers of sex.
Please remember that it’s well known that teenagers who are poorly educated about sexual matters are more likely to have unwanted pregnancies!
Very importantly, when you first meet someone that you really want to have sex with – do talk over the possibilities with them. Discuss whether you should postpone intercourse for a while.
Remember: there’s a great deal of pretty harmless pleasure to be had from kissing and petting.
Incidentally, don’t fall into the common trap of deciding to have your first sexual experience, whilst you’re under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
You shouldn’t be making this vital decision, while your brain is effected with alcohol or drugs.
When you do decide to have sex for the first time, make sure that it’s safe sex.
Remember two simple facts:
* these days, there are many STIs around, particularly chlamydia
* large numbers of teenage girls are still getting pregnant, despite the Government’s attempts to reduce the teen pregnancy rate.
We strongly recommend that you and your partner agree to use condoms to begin with.
There’s nothing wrong with the other methods of contraception, but they don’t protect you against STIs.