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Young Sexuality Activists: Jessica Danforth

This blog post is the first in a series here at Scarleteen profiling young people worldwide who are activists in some way in the fields of sexuality, sex education and sexual health.

Jessica Danforth is a one-person whirlwind for change. The 26-year-old founder of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, with headquarters in Toronto and Oneida, Wisconsin, she travels around North America and internationally advocating for culturally appropriate sex education in indigenous communities. A self-described “multiracial Two Spirit Indigenous hip-hop feminist reproductive justice freedom fighter,” she’s the executive director of NYSHN, the first chair of the National Indigenous HIV/AIDS Council, a North American co-chair of the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and has somehow found the time in her seriously packed schedule to edit two books and pick up several awards for her work along the way. I managed to catch up with her during an

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The Testing Diaries: Robin

Do you feel anxious about the idea of getting tested for sexually transmitted infections and diseases? Some of our readers certainly do.

Some never had adequate sex-education and did not realize that sexual activity with a partner -- and not just anal or vaginal intercourse -- can pose STI risks in the first place. Some are not sure where to go for testing or how to ask for it. Others feel uncomfortable discussing STIs with a partner or potential partner. We get it: this stuff can be hard, and it is usually not the kind of thing where someone just takes us by the hand and leads us through.

This is why we're doing this series at Scarleteen. In it, some of our volunteers share their own stories of how they deal with different aspects of STI testing and reproductive healthcare.

Ten years ago, I knew about using lube, about making first-time intercourse comfortable, and about pregnancy prevention options, but it seems I didn’t know much about sexually transmitted infections.

My partner at

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I trust him and I want him, but things are moving WAY too fast!

Emme6678 asks:

I'm only 14 and a freshmen and I've only been dating my boyfriend for about two weeks and we have been moving pretty quickly. We have been friends for a really long time and I really like and trust him but I feel like we are moving too quickly. He has already fingered me and I've given him a handjob, and he's been talking about sex. I think I am way too young and I definitely dont feel ready but when we're doing things and I'm really turned on I sometimes actually want to have sex. I am really curious what actual sex is like, and I want to try it. But I know in the long run I will regret it. How do I stop myself from doing something solely based off of my hormones? How do I explain to my boyfriend that I dont want to have sex?

I want to change up my sexual routine with my partner. Where do I start?

Chantelle asks:

My boyfriend are "sexually active" but it's always short, boring, and quiet. If I make a sound he'll think that he's hurting me which makes me have to contain everything. I want to try more positions with him, we've done normal, and doggy, how can I make things more interesting with out making it awkward? And how can I make sex longer?

Life Lessons from TV: Dawson's Creek on How to Know You are Ready for Sex

One of my favorite TV shows when I was a teenager was the series "Dawson's Creek." The series centered around best friends Joey and Dawson and portrayed their experiences from high school and into college as they made and lost friends, entered and left relationships, and grew up. The show was aired from 1998 to 2003 and was one of the most popular drama series of its time. It dealt very realistically with many issues that teens can be faced with, from bullying to dealing with a parents' divorce, and I think it did this so well that the lessons from the show are still applicable even today.

One of these lessons was about figuring out when you're ready for sex.

We often get questions here on Scarleteen from people who are thinking about becoming sexually active and don't know how to figure out whether they are ready for that step. Like so many aspects of sex, this "readiness" is something a lot of peers refer to but few can quite explain.

If you ask most people what it feels like to be

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Fear of pregnancy? Ready for sex?

Hannahcarissa95 asks:

I am almost 18. My long distance boyfriend is 22. I have decided he is the man I want to lose my virginity to. Seeing as he is 1500 miles away means that he is not going to be doing it anytime soon. However, I am going to where he lives for Thanksgiving and we are planning on doing it then. He is a very spiritual guy and has a strong feeling that I might get pregnant on the first time that we have sex. He thinks this due to the fact that I really want a baby and I always have. But I want one when I am married and able to support it and a family. I told him that the best that we can do is be safe and smart about sex and protection and if it happens it happens but I need some advice on what else to tell him. Could you help me? I also was wondering if you have any suggestions about what would be the best plan of action if I were to get pregnant? In my mind abortion is not an option for me. I asked him what we would do and he said that he would obviously support me with multiple jobs. we would get our own place. But we all know that things never go exactly how you plan them. What do I do to ease his worries and my own?

Off the Beaten Path

When I was growing up, I often turned to my mother for relationship advice. We had our differences, but we were close, and I valued her opinions. However, I also found myself grappling with many of the things she said, because in all of it one thing was clear: for her, the only kind of acceptable sexual relationships are monogamous, heterosexual, long-term commitments.

We first started having these conversations when I was around 14 years old, which was also when I first started to question my sexuality. From the start, I had some questions about this concept. What if I did not want to sleep with men at all? What if I did not feel interested in the marriage-and-kids thing?

A few years later, after two failed relationships (with the same wonderful person) and a lot of angst, I was fairly certain about two things: 1. I was pretty darn queer and 2. I wasn't cut out for monogamous, long-term relationships at the time. I did not feel comfortable within a relationship, no matter how awesom

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The Testing Diaries: Joey

Do you feel anxious about the idea of getting tested for sexually transmitted infections and diseases? Some of our readers certainly do.

Some never had adequate sex-education and did not realize that sexual activity with a partner -- and not just anal or vaginal intercourse -- can pose STI risks in the first place. Some are not sure where to go for testing or how to ask for it. Others feel uncomfortable discussing STIs with a partner or potential partner. We get it: this stuff can be hard, and it is usually not the kind of thing where someone just takes us by the hand and leads us through.

This is why we're starting this new series at Scarleteen's blog. In it, some of Scarleteen's volunteers will share their own stories of how they deal with different aspects of STI testing and reproductive healthcare.

I was tested for the first time seven years ago, shortly after I had my first sexual experiences. Things did not go according to plan: though I'd insisted on condom use, the person I

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