Not "real" sex, but was there a real risk?


I' m 19 and have never had full penetrative sex. However I have fooled around with a boy two days ago. We didn't have sex but we were quite close to doing so and now I'm very worried about the possibility of being pregnant. I was due on my period a week ago and I still haven't come on. Is it possible to get pregnant without actually having sex? We were both naked and pleasuring each other in other means and he wasn't wearing a condom.

It's tough for me to give you a solid answer on this one, because you weren't very clear on what you were actually doing.

Sometimes, when a person says they haven't had "full" intercourse⁠ , or "full" penetration, they mean they haven't had whatever their idea of that is. In other words, a person who says that may have had an inch of a penis⁠ inside them, but not five inches, or had intercourse without orgasm⁠ , or HAD intercourse, but didn't experience the pain or feelings they expected to feel. What a given person considers "actually" having sex⁠ varies an awful lot.

So, here's the scoop: if two people of the opposite sex have direct genital contact -- as in, your vulva⁠ or anus⁠ , his penis -- without using a condom⁠ or another reliable method of birth control⁠ , then risks of STIs exist and risks of pregnancy⁠ may exist. So, if in your being naked and pleasuring one another, his penis did have direct contact with our genitals⁠ , unprotected, then yes, you may have had a pregnancy risk. There is a smaller risk of pregnancy when, say, a penis is rubbed on the labia⁠ or vaginal opening⁠ than when the penis has fully entered the vagina⁠ and remined inside through an act of intercourse, but both scenarios present that risk: it just varies by degree (and varies further based on how fertile a given woman was at the time of the risk). If this is the case, since your period⁠ is late, I'd suggest going ahead and taking a home pregnancy test⁠ . I'd also suggest you both schedule a screening for sexually transmitted infections⁠ a month from now, to cover that base as well.

For the future, if you're going to be in close physical contact, having any sort of sex, then you're going to need to be talking about safer sex⁠ and birth control with your partners, preferably in adavnce of any sexual⁠ activity. And if you're going to have genital contact, then you're going to need to start protecting yourself accordingly, and choosing partners who gladly work with you to do that: biology doesn't care what any of us call a given kind of sex, or if we define it as "real" or "full" sex or not.

If we're having direct genital contact with someone, these risks exist.

Here are a few links to help round this all out⁠ for you, and fill you in on when you need to be using safer sex and birth control, and when you don't:

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  • Heather Corinna

In the thick of a pregnancy scare? Freaking out? Not sure what to do? Welcome to your virtual pregnancy scare doula.