Heather Corinna replies:
Okay, let's be completely open and honest! I've had sex a couple times with my boyfriend, with protection of course, but honest, I don't get it!? How do you have sex? How do you do all of it!? I am so lost when it comes to anything. I was raised in the LDS church and taught that abstinence is the key. So I was never taught anything about anything and I would really like to know as much as possible! Thanks a bunch!
Jules: what you're asking is obviously something I'm not going to be able to sum up in one page. Partnered sex and all of sexuality is a huge topic!
But what I can do is set you up with some primers to get you started, and give you some context so that it all makes more sense.
How you have sex with someone else is really about what feels good to any two people at a given time. How people define what sex is varies so widely because it's such an individual experience, not just person to person, but even for any one person from day to day. A lot of people will define sex as vaginal intercourse, others (with a little more understanding) as any kind of genital contact for the purposes of sexual gratification: like oral sex (stimulating genitals with the mouth, lips, teeth or tongue), manual sex (stimulating genitals with hands and fingers or sex toys), anal sex (stimulation of the anus with hands, fingers, a penis, the mouth or sex toys), "dry" sex (partners rubbing genitals together or on another body part while still wearing clothes) or mutual masturbation (partners masturbating themselves in the same space). Still other people (and these are the ones who really get it, in my book) will define sex as potentially all of those things, but also as anything we seek out or experience which we feel is sexual or look to to enjoy or meet our sexual desires -- that can be all of those things, kissing, massage, role play, experimenting with different sensations on our bodies, masturbation, heck, it could be rolling in the mud on a sunny day if that's what floats your boat.
How you find out what sex is for you, or for you and a partner, is just by experimenting with what feels good (and ruling out what doesn't), and communicating with each other so that you can each start to get an idea of what each of you likes, and what things you mutually like: those things will obviously be the things you choose to do together. Sex with another person is something that basically takes practice to get...well, not perfect, but sometimes it can be mighty close. Over time with a partner, so long as you both are experimenting and communicating, and both invested in each other's pleasure, you'll find your groove together.
If you're sexually active now but feeling like things aren't making sense or don't feel right, it might be a good idea to slow down a little, spend some more time exploring and talking with your partner, and to use some resources to get better educated together. Too, it sounds like you also might not know what you need to do, or all of what you can do, to prevent unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections, so do be sure to read up on all of that (I've included information on both below) and be sure you're managing those risks as you want and need to before continuing with partnered intercourse.
It's also a good thing to explore your body with your own two hands. That not only familiarizes you with your own body, it gives you an environment to learn about some things you enjoy sexually, about your own unique areas of sensitivity, and it provides you opportunities to empower yourself by feeling like you own your own sexuality. You can bring all or any of that to partnered sex, and masturbation is also simply one way to feel really good all by yourself and to manage your own sexual desires.
What I'd suggest for you is that you get your hands on a couple good, basic but in-depth sexuality guides to dig into. I have one for young adults that I authored -- click here to check it out -- but you can also check out this link to see about some more. I'd also encourage you to connect with a good gynecologist/sexual healthcare provider. You're sexually active, so you need preventative sexual healthcare each year anyway, but that person can also be a fantastic go-to person for any questions you have about your own anatomy, sexual health and sexuality.
I'm going to organize a bunch of material we have here at the site for you in an order that I think will make the most sense, and will give you your own tailored sex-ed curriculum to get started with. So, I'd suggest reading these links from top to bottom, and by all means, if you find you have questions, feel free to pop back here and ask them, or to visit our message boards where we can engage in conversations about all of this.
Okay? So, here's a Sexuality 101 just for you: