Everyone’s having sex. Or that’s what the world would have us believe. But the reality is that there are some of us who aren’t doing it because we’re kind of in the dark about stuff and not sure where to turn for information. And there are some of us who are doing it and are yet confused about a number of things. Is it safe? Is it normal? Is it right? What on earth does that mean? These are questions we have all been plagued by at some point or the other. And so we bring you our list of things about sex everyone wants to know!
1. What on earth are “The Bases”?
We blame American TV and movies for this one. How is one supposed to know what this means when we don’t even play baseball? First base: kissing! Second base: boob touching. Third base: genital contact. Home run: going all the way.
2. Does oral sex count as sex?
Yes, it does. It’s intimate, it involves the exchange of bodily fluids, it’s sex.
3. When is it safe to have sex without using a condom?
Never! Unless you’re in a committed, monogamous relationship, and you and your partner have both been tested recently and have received a clean bill of health. Even then, unless you’re on a prescribed oral contraceptive, you risk getting pregnant. (If you’re trying to have a baby, of course, go for it!)
4. Can I get pregnant the first time I have intercourse?
The short answer: yes. The long answer: it’s complicated. Depends on what phase of your cycle you’re in (whether it’s your first time or your hundredth), and how fertile you are at that point of time. But this is an imprecise thing, especially for women who have irregular cycles. So best to stick with the short answer!
5. What if he pulls out? Can that prevent pregnancy?
If your partner withdraws before climaxing, the risk of pregnancy is reduced greatly. But it’s still not 100% safe, because pre-cum (which is released when a man is aroused) contains small quantities of sperm too. Also, ladies, think this one through: are you sure you want to risk the possibility of unplanned motherhood on your man’s ability to control himself at one of the most unrestrained moments of passion that any human being experiences? It’s better for you and for him if you just play it safe and use a condom.
6. Is it safe to be on the pill?
If it has been prescribed by a doctor who has examined you, then yes. But make sure you declare your entire gynaecological and relevant medical history to the doctor – including how regular your menstrual cycle is, whether you have complications such as thyroid, diabetes or PCOD, and so on. Not making a full disclosure to your doctor is the most foolish thing you could do – your health and well-being are precious!
7. What about the morning-after pill? Can I use that?
Only if it is an emergency such as a condom breaking or, God forbid, if you’ve been sexually assaulted. It’s called the “morning-after pill” yes, but that’s a misnomer. It is, and should be, treated as emergency contraception. It is basically a booster dose of hormones that delays the release of an egg by your ovary, thus not allowing it to be fertilized by sperm. But such a forcible alteration to your regular reproductive rhythm is not healthy for you in the long term if it is repeated frequently, and can lead to major hormonal complications for your body. Therefore it MUST NOT be treated as an alternative to regular contraception. Also, remember that there is a time limit for taking it. The i-pill, which is the most commonly available form of emergency contraceptive in India, needs to be taken preferably within 24 hours of unprotected sex, and within 72 hours at the most, to be effective – and it has side-effects.
8. It hurts when I do it. Is that normal?
Yes and no. Plenty of women experience discomfort during sex. It hurts if you’re not wet enough, or if you have latex allergy – consider using a water-based lubricant such as this one - not an oil-based one, because that makes the condom porous and increases chances of leakage and breakage. Also try out non-latex condoms. If, however, you have been sexually active for a while, and it hurts persistently and despite sufficient lubrication, you should see a gynaecologist and get an exam done – UTIs and yeast infections can cause a burning sensation, or it could be a symptom of other problems that affect the vagina.
9. Can I get an STD even if I don’t have intercourse?
Unfortunately, yes. You can get an STD even from kissing! Herpes is the most common culprit, since a person who’s once had it carries the virus through life – and if you have a cut or open sore in your mouth, it can be transmitted to you from their saliva. Oral sex can be the cause of transmission of herpes, gonorrhoea and Chlamydia. And even genital contact without penetration (what most people call “dry humping”) can cause transmission – because when there is arousal there is fluid secretion (and exchange). Know your STDs, and get yourself and your partner tested regularly to keep yourself safe!
10. How do people test for STDs? When should I get it done?
A blood test is the most common method. Most reputed path labs have standard STD testing panels such as this one. They cover the most common STDs. You should also get yourself an annual checkup performed by a doctor to test for the less common ones, as well as for a pap smear. As for when: you should ideally get yourself tested every time you have a new partner, and the risk of exposure increases.
11. Is masturbation normal?
Yes, it is! For both men and women. Feeling aroused is often as much a physiological phenomenon as it is indicative of desire for a particular person. It’s perfectly okay to bring yourself to a climax by touching yourself in a way that brings you pleasure.
12. How can I have an orgasm?
Different things work for different people. Some (lucky!) people climax easily, some people need more persistent stimulation and activity. The most important thing, however, is to be comfortable with your partner and discuss what arouses you more, and what doesn’t work for you. This is an area where you have to try stuff out – no one can give you exact instructions. (Though we do have a few bits of information that could help you out!)
If you have more questions that you’d like answers to, do write to us. We promise to try our very best to help you out!