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Off Script: Some Sex Stuff that Isn't Talked About

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PlaygroundPushover asks:

I'm a virgin, a girl and on the pill. I have a boyfriend and we're ready to have sex. We've been talking about it for months and we both feel we are finally ready. I honestly cannot wait to have sex with him, (I wouldn't say I'm the girl in the classic script), we both want it. We're very comfortable around each other and have done everything except vaginal sex. We actually pooled some funds to get a hotel for a weekend so we won't be walked in on and have complete privacy and a large bed. Anyways. I know the ins and outs (no pun intended) of sex. But there's one bit where it gets hazy.

Johanna Schorn replies:

PlaygroundPushover's question continued:

I'm confused about what happens after he's ejaculated. Preferably I'd be using a condom but like I said I'm on the pill and have been since before we started going out. We've both been for STI screenings because we know you can catch STIs through other forms than sex. However we both are virgins. So if we weren't using a condom and he did ejaculate inside of me what exactly happens from here. As in is he supposed to pull out? Stay inside for a bit? Once he is out of me what's supposed to happen? I know ejaculate is going to drip out. But how long will it take to start? How much is actually going to come out? I don't really want to ruin the moment by getting out of bed to go tidy up. I know you should go pee with the urethra being close to the vaginal entrance. But I don't really want us to fall asleep and wake up in a wet patch.

No one really ever discusses what happens after. It's always the build up and sex itself. I'd love to just lay there and cuddle for a bit before having to clean up. So I will keep tissues next to my bed. But I know it's important to pee. I just don't want to ruin the moment.

Thank you for asking this question, PlaygroundPushover! It's an absolutely wonderful question.

You're right: when people talk about sex, or when they come to Scarleteen to ask questions on sex, most of the time they are concerned with the events leading up to sex, or sexual activity itself. That's also true for most representations of sex that we see in the media – whether it's novels, TV or movies. What this means is that we often get a very incomplete view of what sexuality looks like, one that can be fairly superficial and leave out a whole lot.

Just think about the way sex is shown in most movies: all we generally get to see are the moments leading up to sex, then some carefully edited shots of a happily entangled couple. Then the scene ends. What we see next is usually the following morning, when the couple wakes up in each other's arms, wrapped in strategically placed bedsheets. Sheets that don't usually have a big wet spot on them, no less.

But what happens in between? Do any of these people ever have to go to the bathroom halfway through? Do they fumble around to get the condom on right? Do they ever end up with awkward positioning? Do they ever bump their head on the headboard? Do they ever burst out laughing? Do they ever fall asleep on the wet spot?

The answer is that no, those things aren't generally shown or talked about. But you can bet that they happen – all of the time. And they're as much part of sex as everything else, whether we like them, don't like them, think they're human and charming and funny or think they're all just a pain in the butt.

One of the realities of sex that gets glossed over a lot are body fluids.

Even when a condom is used correctly and for all genital contact, there are still other fluids in the game: sweat, lube, vaginal lubrication, saliva, sometimes blood. They're all often going to be there, and getting comfortable with them, and the fact that they tend to show up, is part of getting comfortable with being sexual with ourselves or others. If you're not sure that you can deal with those realities, or they make you feel seriously uncomfortable, maybe you just need a little bit more time to get comfortable with them?

But it sounds like you're already aware of that, and that's why you're asking this question. So let's talk about the nitty-gritty of some of this slippery stuff.

The first thing thing I'd like to emphasize that I don't think you need to worry about "ruining the moment." All of this is part of the moment, after all. Shifting positions to get more comfortable, putting on or taking off a condom, cleaning up ejaculate, slipping out for a minute to go the bathroom – all of that is part of sex, because sex in real life isn't sex in the movies. It's sex in real life, in real time, with real people's bodies that involve all these things. These things don't have to be awkward, or embarrassing freak occurrences. They can all just be understood to be part and parcel of the experience, and when people really do feel comfortable being sexual together, they usually get that and it's not a big deal.

If you can learn to look at it that way, the logistics of getting cleaned up won't seem so daunting anymore.

Part of accepting that reality can also be talking to your partner about this. Have you discussed these insecurities with him at all? If not, I greatly encourage you to do so. You'll be in this together, after all. Chances are that being honest with your partner and agreeing to face the uncertainties together and work it out as you go along can go a long way towards making you both feel comfortable. He might have his own things like this he's worried about, too, so then you'll both get the chance to unpack it together, and, should you decide to keep being sexual together, can both have the opportunity to do so feeling a lot more comfortable. Sometimes just addressing the elephant in the room (or the ejaculate, whatever) can be all we need to do to feel better about it.

As for more practical matters, one thing you can do is make sure you have a box of tissues around. If you're worried about leaving wet spots on the sheets, you can put a towel underneath and just remove it when you're all ready to go to sleep.

If you're going to have intercourse without a condom and your partner ejaculates, some of that will flow back out thanks to gravity. However, the amount of ejaculate isn't nearly as much as people often expect: it's usually just about a teaspoon or two. This is another great thing to discuss with your partner: he should be the expert on how much he ejaculates. Either way, you don't need to worry about a waterfall's-worth of liquid gushing out of you as soon as you get up.

If you're not using a condom, there are no rules about when to pull out. Whenever either of you feels like you're done with intercourse, that's a good time to pull out. When you are using a condom and your partner ejaculates, he'll want to pull out soon after, while he's still erect, and hold on to the base of the condom as he withdraws. Then he can pull it off (away from you, so there's no spilling on you) and discard the condom. That prevents a condom from slipping off into your vagina.

Going to the bathroom after intercourse is a smart idea, too, for the reasons you mention. And again: that doesn't have to mean that you're killing the mood. After all, you'll only be gone for a couple of minutes, and you can still get back to cuddling right after.

Everything else is up to you and your partner and your individual comfort levels. Some people like to take a shower after sex and put on some clean clothes, others prefer some naked cuddling and don't mind falling asleep all sweaty and sticky. Some people want to do one thing one day and another the next day. All of that is perfectly fine, and will just depend on you and your partner and whatever feels best and comfortable to you, which you'll both always be able to just feel out as you go.

Really, a lot of this is simply about recognizing bodies as natural and normal. They're not machines – you don't push a button and everything functions automatically with no funny faces or awkward noises or sticky fluids. But if you ask me, all of that is part of the fun and part of what makes sex so special and pleasurable.

So, don't worry about these things so much and just do what feels right for you and your partner at any given moment. I hope you two have a great time!

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written 13 Jul 2011 . updated 22 Jan 2014

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