Sex and sexuality
During this time, many young people also become more aware of their feminine and masculine sides. A look, a touch, or just thinking about someone may make your heart beat faster and produce a warm, tingling feeling all over. Talking with your parents or pediatrician is a good way to get information and to help you think about how these changes affect you.
You may ask yourself...
- When should I start dating?
- When is it OK to kiss?
- Is it OK to masturbate (stimulate your genitals for sexual pleasure)?
- How far should I go sexually?
- When will I be ready to have sexual intercourse?
- Will having sex help my relationship?
- If I am attracted to a same-sex friend, does that mean I am gay or lesbian?
- Is oral sex really sex?
Masturbation is normal and won't harm you. Many boys and girls masturbate, many don't. Deciding to become sexually active, however, can be very confusing. On the one hand, you hear so many warnings and dangers about having sex. On the other hand, movies, TV, magazines, even the lyrics in songs all seem to be telling you that having sex is OK.
The fact is, sex is a part of life and, like many parts of life, it can be good or bad. It all depends on you and the choices you make. Take dating, for example. If you and a friend feel ready to start dating and it's OK with your parents, that's fine. You may find yourself in a more serious relationship. But if one of you wants to stop dating, try not to hurt the other person's feelings—just be honest with each other. After a breakup both partners may be sad or angry, but keeping on with normal activities and talking it over with a trusted adult is usually helpful.
Getting close to someone you like is OK too. Holding hands, hugging, and kissing may happen, but they don't have to lead to having sex. Deciding whether to have sex is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Some good advice is in the article "Deciding to Wait." Why not take your time and think it through? Talk with your parents about your family's values. Waiting to have sex until you are older, in a serious relationship, and able to accept the responsibilities that come along with it is a great idea!
And you can avoid becoming pregnant, getting someone pregnant, or getting diseases. There is only one way to avoid pregnancy and infections related to sex, and that is by not having sex. And remember that oral sex is sex. You don't have to worry about pregnancy with oral sex, but you do have to worry about infections like herpes, gonorrhea, HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), and HPV (human papillomavirus -- the virus that can cause cancers of the mouth and throat, cervix and genitals in teens and adults).
However, if you decide to have sex, talk with your pediatrician about which type of birth control is best for you and how to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections.