Sexual Activity

The “101”

It’s typical that during the process of growing up and adolescence, young people think about sex and possibly start sexual activity. The exact point in time when a young person’s interest in sexuality and sexual activity “takes off” is unique to that person. So you shouldn’t feel any hurry to initiate sexual activity—definitely wait until you are ready.

Still we want to ensure you have some basic information about sexual activity. The general term “sexual activity” includes a variety of body contact activities, including touching, kissing, masturbation, fellatio (oral sex), vaginal intercourse, and anal intercourse.

Sexual activity is a normal body function. It is a healthy activity when the person or people doing the activity are doing so voluntarily and in a way that prevents diseases and unintended pregnancies.

Sexual activity can involve just one person, two people, or more than two people. It can involve people of one gender, two genders, or all genders.

“Safe sex” means doing things to protect oneself and your sexual partners from physical and emotional harm. So that includes things like having clean bodies, using condoms (there are internal and external condoms available), using a contraceptive device, and all participants in the sexual activity consenting to participate.

Sexual activity can be harmful to one’s body when the person or people do not take protective measures. Some consequences of unsafe sexual activity on the body are sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (these are also called sexually transmitted diseases, STDs), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), human papillomavirus (HPV), viral hepatitis (Hep) and pregnancy. Engaging in sexual activity can also have negative emotional consequences if the person or people have had the sexual activity without protection or when one or all participants were not ready for it or did not agree to it.

There are treatments for the physical and emotional consequences of unsafe sexual activity.

A healthy decision would be to wait to participate in a sexual activity until you are fully knowledgeable about the benefits and risks associated with it and feel emotionally and physically ready to do it.

Reflect On It

Write in your journal (download journal) any thoughts you have as you think about this topic, using the questions below:

Learn More

Crush’s Sexual Health Information Wow, there sure are a lot of websites with information about sex and teens! Crush provides this information using animations and videos to keep you entertained as you learn.

STI, HIV, and Hep Information Find reliable information about sexually transmitted infections (STIs), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and viral hepatitis (Hep).

Take Action!

Learn How to Access Sexual Health Services

Watch Healthy Teen Network’s brief Keep It Simple video for instructions on getting linked to trusted, “teen friendly” contraceptive and reproductive healthcare providers.

Learn About Birth Control

Bedsider is an online birth control support network. Bedsider helps people find the method of birth control that’s right for them and learn how to use it consistently and effectively.

Take Five Steps Toward Good Sexual Health

Follow the five action steps for good sexual health.

Get Tested for Pregnancy, STIs, HIV, and Hep

If you are sexually active, be sure to get tested regularly for pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and viral hepatitis (Hep). Make an appointment with your healthcare provider or find a testing location near you.

Get Sexual Infection Prevention or Treatment Service

If you have initiated or are considering sexual activity, you should select and use a contraceptive. If you have symptoms of a sexual infection or are concerned that you may have been exposed to one you should get medical care. If you have had unsafe sex (or been forced to have unsafe sex) and are concerned you might become pregnant, or that you may have been exposed to HIV through sex or sharing of drug needles, you may want to take emergency medicines called Plan B (for pregnancy) or PEP (for HIV). But you need to take these medicines right away. Plan B is available to youth where over the counter medications are sold. You will need to get PEP through a healthcare provider. Get emergency treatment at a hospital or make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you are responsible for your own health care, or ask the adult who arranges your health care to make an appointment. If you don’t want to involve an adult, make your own arrangement.

If you or your family are not insured or do not have a regular healthcare provider, consider getting your health services through a community health center. Use the Find-a-Health-Center Tool to locate a community health center by ZIP Code.

Use the Find a Family Planning Clinic tool to locate a family planning clinic by state, city, or ZIP code.

Use this tool to locate an Indian Health Service, Tribal, or Urban Indian Health Program facility.

Get HIV Treatment or Care Services

If you or someone you care about has HIV disease, get connected to specialized HIV treatment and care services. Find an HIV treatment and care services provider near you.

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