What is sex?
Most people have a general idea what constitutes sex, although lawyers sometimes make it more complex. For the purpose of this page we will consider sex as genital contact with someone other than yourself with the intent to achieve orgasm. This means sex includes traditional intercourse as well as anal and oral intercourse. It would also include hand jobs, “outer sex” (rubbing bodies without actual intercourse), etc.
The urge for sex is built into most creatures so they will reproduce. In most mammals the female is only receptive to sex at certain times (when she is most likely to get pregnant). The males are almost always ready for sex. Human females are able to have sex at any time during their cycle, although some women report being more in the mood for sex near the middle of their cycles ( when they are most likely to conceive). For most human beings the sex drive has a biological/hormonal component as well as a strong psychological component. We are able to “think” ourselves into or out of the desire for sex. We are not driven solely by instincts and hormones.
Homosexuality is the sexual attraction between 2 people of the same sex, that is female to female (lesbian) or male to male. What causes homosexuality is unclear although it is probably related to both genetic background and environmental/social influences. Some studies have shown areas on the X chromosome that tend to be the same in homosexual men which may indicate a hereditary component to male homosexuality. On the other hand, identical twins which contain the same genetic make-up are not always both homosexual. Studies show that if one identical twin is homosexual, the other twin is homosexual in 50% of the cases. This means that there probably is an inborn tendency to homosexuality but that other influences (social, hormonal, etc.) may play a significant role in a person’s sexual preferences.
Why are homosexual men at higher risk of contracting HIV and AIDS? AIDS was first detected in this country in the homosexual population. In the late 1970’s and early 80’s some homosexual males were extremely promiscuous and had sex with many different partners. Although the HIV virus probably originated in Africa as a mutated monkey virus, it slowly began to spread to people in other continents. The disease spread most rapidly in those populations that were most promiscuous and engaged in risky sexual activity. Anal sex, which is practiced by many homosexual males, may increase the chance of transmitting the HIV virus, especially to the receptive partner. This is because small tears to the lining of the anus may occur during sex allowing the virus to enter the blood stream. The presence of sores due to herpes or syphilis may also increase the chance of spreading HIV regardless of the type of sex activity.
Female homosexuals are not a population at increased risk of HIV infection. This is primarily because they are less promiscuous but also may be related to the type of sex practiced between women. Although sexually transmitted diseases can be spread by oral and outer sex, penetration of the vagina or anus with exchange of bodily fluids is a much more efficient route to transmit HIV. Lesbians are not immune to STDs and should keep in mind that any sore on the genitalia or mouth increases the chance of transmitting disease. Sex toys that are shared or not properly washed (bleach and water) can also spread disease.
Female Sexual Anatomy
The female external genitalia consists of the labia, vaginal opening (introitus), and clitoris. Between the clitoris and the vagina is the urethra or tube to the bladder. The urethra is short in the female and its close proximity to the anus and vagina makes it very easy for bacteria to enter during sex leading to bladder and urethral infection. The clitoris is the most sensitive part of the female genitalia and is most likely to lead a woman to orgasm when stimulated.
Male Sexual Anatomy
The male external genitalia consists of the penis and scrotum. The scrotum contains the 2 testes which are the organs that produce sperm. The penis consists of the shaft and the head or glans. If the man has not been circumcised, he will have loose skin (the foreskin) covering a portion of the head of the penis. This skin retracts easily in normal, healthy men. Circumcised males do not have foreskin. The urethral opening is at the tip of the penis and is the exit for both semen and urine. The urethra is the tube that leads from the bladder to the outside. In the male the vas deferens/ejaculatory duct which carries sperm also connects to the urethra so it can function as a conduit for semen as well as urine.
Varieties of sexual activity
Anal sex is practiced by heterosexual as well as homosexual couples. At least 20% of heterosexual couples report having had anal sex. Because anal tissue is more delicate than vaginal tissue, tears and injury are much more likely to occur. The natural lubrication that occurs in the vagina is also absent in the anus so lubricating jelly is often necessary to prevent injury. Because of the possibility of small tears during anal sex, the transmission of disease is more likely so caution and the use of condoms is recommended.
Some studies have reported a greater incidence of anal cancer in recipients of anal sex, but this is most likely related to anal infection with human papilloma virus (HPV) rather than the sex act itself.
Oral sex is called fellatio when performed on the male and cunnilingus when performed on the female. This type of sex is frequently practiced with a false sense of security. It is true that oral sex alone will not lead to pregnancy, but ORAL SEX CAN TRANSMIT STD! Keep in mind that oral herpes can be transmitted to the genitalia and in some people HPV can be transmitted this way.
Outer sex includes manual stimulation (hand jobs), pelvic rubbing, etc. Outer sex limits the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease if there are no open sores on the external genitalia and if ejaculation occurs away from the opening of the vagina. Outer sex can be difficult to control and the desire for more may lead to intercourse. Keep this in mind before engaging in outer sex without a handy supply of condoms.
Vaginal sex is penetration of the vagina by the penis. This is traditionally what is thought of as intercourse.
In the female virgin the entrance to the vagina is often partially blocked by a membranous tissue called the hymen. The size of the hymen varies greatly among females. Some virginal girls have virtually no hymen and others have enough tissue to make using tampons difficult. The presence of the hymen will sometimes make the first vaginal intercourse painful and bleeding is not unusual. Subsequent intercourse is generally much easier.
Orgasm is the rhythmic contraction of pelvic muscles and pleasant sensations that occur after a buildup of sexual tension and arousal. It is caused by a combination of responses of the autonomic nervous system and to a hormone called oxytocin.
In men orgasm is accompanied by ejaculation. Both men and women are able to have orgasms but reaching orgasm requires a longer period of sexual arousal in the female. Arousal in both sexes is manifested by an increase in blood flow to the genitalia resulting in an erect penis or swollen labia and lubricated vagina.
Reaching orgasm involves the brain as well as the body. Self-consciousness, distractions, stress can all inhibit sexual pleasure and interfere with orgasm. For both men and women a relaxed and generous attitude is important to enjoy sex. Communication is also important. The clitoris is equivalent to the penis where sexual stimulation is concerned. Because the clitoris is located well above the vagina, sometimes manual stimulation of the clitoris is essential during intercourse to help a woman reach orgasm.
The G-spot is an area in the vagina which overlies the paraurethral glands. It is located a few centimeters into the vagina on the front (belly-side) wall. This area when stimulated can produce orgasm in some women. In men a similar phenomenon can be induced by massaging the perineum (skin between the base of the scrotum and the anus). This actually is stimulating the prostate which can enhance male orgasm.
Length of orgasm is similar in males and females (a few seconds); however the period of time between subsequent arousal and orgasm is longer in the male. Females can have more than one orgasm per period of sexual arousal; however these orgasms are usually weaker than the first one.
Masturbation is the stimulation of one’s own sexual organs to bring about orgasm. Some religions have taboos about masturbation and it is best that you follow your own conscience in this regard. From a non-religious point of view, masturbation is a harmless way to release sexual tension without risk of sexually transmitted disease, pregnancy, etc. It is a way for people without partners to release sexual tension and urges. This is a much healthier way to do this than engaging in anonymous or emotionless sex. Masturbation can help you learn about your own body and its sexual responses.
Most people masturbate at some time in their lives. As Dr. Joycelyn Elders says “its healthy, safe and you won’t go blind”
Wet dreams are also called nocturnal emissions and are an involuntary ejaculation during sleep. This may occur in young males in association with erotic dreams. It is very common and should not be a cause for alarm or concern.
Should I have sex?
The decision to have sex is a personal one and based on our own mores, culture and upbringing. Our society has become more sexually charged with sex talk and sexy images present everywhere. Unfortunately we have not become more sexually aware. People have sex at a younger age and with more partners but the sex is not better and more fulfilling. Actually it is quite the opposite. Sex becomes impersonal, riskier and mundane. A person decides to have sex for the first time for many different reasons. Curiosity is one of the most common. Before you have sex consider the following:
- When you sleep with someone, you also sleep with all their previous partners (STD-wise)
- A pregnancy will change your life completely
- When in doubt, don’t have sex
For girls first sex is usually not that great. So why rush into it? Sex will improve, however, with a loving, devoted partner.
What is safe sex?
“Safe sex” should really be called “safer sex” because no sex is entirely safe. Safer sex basically is the reduction in risk of sexually transmitted diseases by the use of condoms. Condom use can make sex more fun if you use your imagination.