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Nothing else "works," so should I just have intercourse?

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Anonymous asks:

I'm 20 years old and I've been dating my boyfriend for over 5 years. We are both virgins. Early in the relationship I told myself that I didn't want to have sex until marriage (mainly because I was, and still am, paranoid about becoming pregnant. He's been very patient and has never tried to force or guilt me into having sex. I guess I sort of have 2 separate questions:

I have given him HJs and BJs for a few years, but he has never done the same for me, not because he doesn't want to but because it just never feels good, even when I'm "in the mood." I've pretty much given up on even letting him try because I assume it's going to be hopeless. In addition, I've never masturbated for the same reason. Is there anything I can do to make it work?

Second, I've recently really been considering having sex with him, not because he's pushing me (he's not), but because I've just felt like I want to. I was considering going on the pill, but if not (or at least not yet), would taking EC afterward even with correct and "failure-free" condom use be a bad idea? Would it be pointless?

Heather Corinna replies:

It strikes me as a bit odd to consider upping the ante to vaginal intercourse when as things are now, you're not feeling sexually satisfied, and when you also express strong reservations about it.

I'd suggest that before you step it up to add a sexual activity which carries greater risks -- of pregnancy, but also of sexually transmitted infections -- and which is often even LESS likely to result in physical/sexual satisfaction for you, that you both invest some more time, together and solo, in finding out what DOES work for you first. That's especially important because for most women, for intercourse to be satisfying, it needs to be partnered with one or more other sexual activities which women do find more satisfying on all levels.

You say you haven't tried masturbation, because what he does isn't working: but that's no reason to presume that what YOU might do will have the same results. In fact, one of the benefits of masturbation is that we're often able to learn things about our sexuality and sexual response that we can share with partners so that in the activities we're doing together, it's more satisfying for us. So, once you've learned for yourself what some things are that you like -- and the way it feels best to do certain things -- you'll be able to give him more input so that what HE does probably WILL feel much better. So, I say go ahead and do invest the time to start with your own two hands: when you are feeling sexual urges, explore them with your fingers and hands, and/or with a vibrator, if you want to explore that way (which most experts in women's sexuality advise using, especially at first).

One of the other nice things about masturbation is that we don't have to worry about hurting anyone's feelings when we're exploring to find out what feels good and doesn't. We can do whatever we like, and if something doesn't work, we don't have to say we're sorry it doesn't, sorry for things taking so long, or feel any pressure to pretend something feels good when it doesn't. It also can feel a lot different exploring our sexuality under someone else's eyes than it can when it's only us.

Masturbation also can make you feel more in touch with your own body, and more comfortable with your own sexuality. Add that to having more things to communicate with a partner, and you may find yourself in a better position with your partner for him to have just as much sex that's about you as you have sex that's about him. Sometimes, when a partner chooses only to engage in sexual activity that is "for" the other partner, that can also be based in a lot of fears: fears about being vulnerable in a receptive position, fears about not getting off, even fears about LIKING something and the vulnerability and exposure really sharing sexuality with a partner creates. So, you might also want to scale down a bit on the sex you're having "for" him if you think any of those sorts of things are factors: after all, he can masturbate too. You aren't under any obligation to do anything sexual to keep him or his interest, nor are you responsible for satisfying his every sexual urge. In fact, he may well be feeling the unbalance here himself, and be frustrated that it IS only about his genitals and body and not really about the both of you more mutually.

Should you decide to have intercourse, there really is no need to take EC after condom use that hasn't failed. If when using a condom it was on for all genital contact, used properly (see the link in the list I left for you below), and did not tear or slip off, then you can rest assured it was fully effective. EC is a great thing to have, but it's less effective than most other methods, expensive and it also can leave you feeling pretty yucky for a little while, so I don't see a reason to use it when it isn't really needed.

If you don't feel comfortable using only a condom, then by all means, talk to your sexual healthcare provider about all of your options: the pill is one, but there are also other effective hormonal and non-hormonal options -- it's all about finding what is best for you. haven't started yearly sexual healthcare yet? Then it's time to do that: ideally, women should be getting a yearly exam once they begin menstruating, and yearly STI screens -- even when monogamous -- once they've become any kind of sexually active, or are thinking about becoming sexually active. It's also great to have a sexual healthcare provider to talk to about issues like this, and being proactive about our sexual and reproductive health can also add some body image and sexuality bonuses, to boot.

I've included a few links for you that I think will be of help, especially the article on how to use condoms, as well as the Yield for Pleasure piece.

written 18 Jul 2007 . updated 06 May 2009

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