Sexual Health 101 for Teens
Being sexually healthy is about taking care of yourself and becoming an adult means that you are responsible for your own health. Physically, that means practicing safer sex, getting tested for STIs, preventing unintended pregnancies, and seeing a doctor or nurse if you have any problems. Feeling good about your body, enjoying sexual pleasure, having positive experiences with others, and being comfortable with your sexual orientation and gender identity are also ways of being sexually healthy. It’s important to know about how your sexual and reproductive body parts work (like a vulva or a penis) so that you can take care of them.
Most people use the term “sex” to refer to penis-in-vagina intercourse, but not everyone is cisgender or heterosexual and there are many different sexual activities that people call “sex” too. There are ways to be sexual with others that feel good but lower your chances of pregnancy, or sexually transmitted infections. A reminder that it’s SUPPOSED to feel good – not just physically, but mentally and emotionally too. There are a lot of myths, misinformation, and negative attitudes about sex and relationships that can can cause feelings of anxiety, shame, and stigma, especially for young people. Knowing how to be responsible and where to get help when you need it can help you have more positive experiences.
Decisions about sexual activity are personal choices but they can be influenced by pressure from family, peers, culture, and media messages. Some people have very specific beliefs about what kind of behaviour is right or wrong, like when someone should become sexually active and with whom. It’s important to consider YOUR values and how becoming sexual with someone else may affect other areas of your life, including your relationships with your family. Talking to your parent(s), guardian, or a trusted adult about dating and sexual health may be difficult at first, but many of them really want to help even if the conversations are uncomfortable.
Having a healthy sex life means knowing what you do or don’t want to do sexually and being confident enough to communicate that to your partner(s). Your partners should respect your boundaries, and you should respect theirs too. If you can’t talk to a partner about sex and enjoy it safely, then you’re probably not ready to be sexual with someone else. Reach out to us if you need more information about how to care for your sexual health!