Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sexuality: How To Talk To Your Child about Sex

Masturbation is a normal activity that people do alone or with a partner.
Masturbation means rubbing or touching your body in a way that arouses sexual
feelings and might produce an orgasm. It is called many things, including
"jerking off" and "playing with yourself".
Many people used to think that masturbation could seriously affect a person's
health. Today, we know that it does not cause physical harm. Most people see it
as a normal part of sexuality, a way to fulfil sexual needs. Both men and women
masturbate. Children, young people, adults, seniors, single and married people
can all masturbate.
Some people do not masturbate. Some do not get pleasure from it and others do
not feel comfortable touching their bodies. In some religions, it is not
acceptable. Some people never masturbate throughout their lives: all of these
choices are normal.

Masturbation can give pleasure, can be relaxing, and is an outlet for sexual
tension. It is often used as a way of understanding how your body works. If a
woman doesn't have orgasms easily, masturbation can help her learn how.
For many couples, caressing their partners' genitals to bring about orgasm is a
very pleasurable way of being intimate without having intercourse. The couple
might be trying to avoid pregnancy or practising safer sex. Or, maybe they have
decided they are not ready for intercourse.

Masturbation is unacceptable if it is done in front of a person who has not
wanted or permitted it.
There are some things to keep in mind. Touching genitals with dirty hands can
spread germs. Putting a sharp or unclean object into a vagina or anus is risky.
Muscles around the anus are not flexible, and the anus may tear or bleed.
A family doctor or counsellor can talk to you about masturbation. They are there
to help. Or, you can call a local Planned Parenthood organization or Public
Health Unit -- see References/Resources.

Outercourse vs. Intercourse
Outercourse is the word used to describe all of the sexual things you and your
partner can do together, everything except sexual intercourse.
Some of these things are holding hands; kissing; hugging; necking; petting;
masturbating each other, or mutual masturbation; and oral sex. These activities
can all be very satisfying -- and sexy! Remember -- you can get sexually
transmitted diseases from oral sex. Also, ejaculating or "coming" near a woman's
vagina can start a pregnancy.
Passionate kissing and heavy petting can lead very quickly to intercourse. It is
important that you and your partner discuss your limits before you start. Make
sure each of you understands just how far you're willing to go physically. This
way, you won't have sexual intercourse without planning to. Respect yourself and
respect your partner: "No" means No.

Having intercourse if both partners don't really want to can have a negative
effect on a relationship. Things may start out well, with long talks and lots of
laughs, but intercourse too early may put an end to everything else.
Whether you have intercourse or outercourse, or no sexual activity at all, is a
decision that you must make for yourself. So, don't let anyone else talk you
into doing anything you don't want to do or don't feel ready for. Your body is
your own and you are the only one to decide what you will or will not do with
it. Don't be afraid to say "No". If you'd like to talk to somebody you can call
your local Planned Parenthood organization or Health Unit -- see

Sexuality and Aging
Maturity brings with it different goals and values in all aspects of life
including sexuality. Although sexuality is with us throughout life, sexual
behaviours and attitudes change as we change over the years.

The media portray young people as glamorous and "sexy', so we associate
sexuality with youth. It is difficult, then, and embarrassing, for young people
to think of their parents, or any older people, as sexually active. In fact,
most older people continue to share sexual relationships all their lives. But,
there are gradual differences in our sexuality that occur as we age.
As men get older they may take longer to get an erection and longer to achieve
orgasm, or "come". It also takes longer before another erection can happen. Some
orgasms are internal, that is, they happen without the ejaculation of semen.
Worrying about changes in sexual response can make the response slower. Nearly
every man can't get an erection at times. This is normal, and usually temporary.
Men may try other types of sexual activities if they no longer rely on an

A woman's vagina may become somewhat stretched after having children. It becomes
less elastic and dryer as she reaches menopause. Water-soluble lubricants,
available at drug stores, can help prevent pain or discomfort during
Both men and women are usually able to come to climax and have orgasms all their
lives, whether or not they choose to include intercourse in their love-making.
Stress, financial and job worries, tragedies, all of life's cares, affect
interest in sex. So does feeling angry, depressed, and tired, taking medication,
and being offended by a partner's habits. Alcohol slows responses, while
increasing desire.

Some older couples find that not having to worry about pregnancy makes sex more
enjoyable. After children have left home there is more privacy. More relaxed
love-making can mean more imaginative techniques, more creative expressions of
intimacy. People like to be touched and hugged no matter what their age.
Affection and closeness are important to everyone's health.
People who have health problems may find that a different position is easier and
more enjoyable. Mutual masturbation or oral sex may be very satisfying. If a
person is alone, masturbation may bring sexual relief and pleasure. Read the
message on Masturbation, under Sexuality in the Index.
Books can answer some questions. Or, you can talk with a counsellor or a person
who works with older people.

Sex Therapy
Sex therapy is used to help people accept and increase enjoyment of their
sexuality. It is based on the ideas that sex is normal and good, that
relationships can be meaningful, and that sexual intimacy is a normal goal. Some
of the reasons people go to a sex therapist are:
problems with sexual arousal, such as being unable to have an erection or an

problems with painful intercourse.

a problem with sexual satisfaction.

difficulties talking about sex, and

understanding and exploring their sexual orientation.

In some cases, people have problems as a result of illness or physical
disability. During therapy, people learn to accept that it is okay to be sexual, to have sexual feelings, fantasies and needs, and to get sexual pleasure from your own
body. A good sex therapist gives accurate, practical information about sex. Some
people get help taking responsibility for their own sexual pleasure by learning
to communicate and share with their partners what feels good and what they want.
Individuals and couples can become more aware of themselves and each other, and
gain a deeper understanding of their relationships. They are encouraged to make
time in their lives for sexual intimacy. Sometimes therapists give exercises for
clients to practise at home. These exercises can help clients learn to enjoy and
respond to sexual stimulation without worrying about performance.
A sex therapist may be trained as a sexologist, social worker, psychologist,
physician, or counsellor, but should have training in how to help people deal
with sexual problems.

In Ontario, sex therapists are not licensed, so anyone can call himself or
herself a sex therapist. The Ontario Association of Marriage and Family
Therapists has names of therapists who are certified by the Board of Examiners
in Sexual Therapy and Counselling in Ontario. The Association's phone number is
1-800- 267-2638.

Homosexuality: Being Gay or Lesbian
It's hard to be different in our culture. We have pressure all around us to be
like everyone else. Even though it may seem like everyone is sexually attracted
to the opposite sex, this is not true. Some people are homosexual: they are
attracted to people of the same sex. In Canada and the United States, there are
gay men and lesbians in every occupation, leading successful lives.
When most of a person's sexual thoughts and activities are about people of the
same sex, this person may be homosexual. Women who are sexually attracted to
other women are called lesbians. Some people use the word "gay" to include both
male and female homosexuals, but usually it is used for men only. People who are
sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex are heterosexual, sometimes
called "straight". Some people are attracted to both people of the same sex and
the opposite sex; these people are bisexual.

People may feel strongly attracted to a person of the same sex. Someone can
think and fantasize about people of the same sex without necessarily being
homosexual. Young people, especially, need to explore their feelings.
Just because you are attracted to a person does not mean that you have to have
sex with them. You may admire the person and or have a loving, caring, sharing
relationship without sex. You do not have to be sexual with anyone until you are
The stereotypes of homosexuals on television or in movies bother many people.
Most gays and lesbians do not look or act any different from anyone else.
We do not know why people are heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. There are
many theories but no clear answers. Many people have sexual fantasies about both
sexes, and sometimes feel confused about whether they are gay or straight. With
time and sometimes help from others, most people can sort out their feelings and
sexual orientation.

If you think that you are gay or lesbian, it may be hard to tell others about
your sexuality. You may feel afraid of losing friends or family members or your
job. However, it may be a huge relief to tell even one person. But don't rush
into it. Tell someone you really trust. And remember that it may take time for
people to adjust and to deal with the news.

"Coming out" or telling others that you are homosexual is a life-long process;
it's never finished. As you become more self- confident it will be easier to
tell others. There might be support groups that you can join in your community.
If you are a parent or a friend of someone who has told you they are homosexual,
you might feel disappointed, upset or worried. Try to deal with the news in a
way which tells the person that you still love them and care for them. As a
parent, you may have plans for your child's life, and this wasn't part of your
plans. But being gay or lesbian isn't bad. Homosexuals are not sick and they
don't need to change or be cured. It is important to support your child or
friend now. That person trusts and respects you enough to confide in you. They
need you. Your love and understanding will help them accept themselves as they
There are books on this subject. It may help to talk to someone you trust. The
Kids Help Phone Line, 1-800-668-6868, is a toll-free number that has counsellors
24 hours a day. . You can also call a local Planned Parenthood organization or
Public Health Unit -- see References/Resources.

How To Talk To Your Child about Sex
Many parents find it hard to talk to their children about sex. Yet children WANT
to know, and if they don't get accurate information from their parents, they'll
probably get inaccurate information from friends, TV, films and magazines. They
are curious about sex, just as they are about everything else. Studies show that
young people who talk with their parents about sex tend to wait longer to have
intercourse. They are more likely to use birth control and to take precautions
against getting sexually transmitted diseases when they do have intercourse.
Here are some general tips that other parents have found helpful for talking to
their children.

Be available. Watch for clues that show they want to talk. Remember that your
comfort with the subject is important. They need to get a feeling of trust from

Answer questions honestly and without showing embarrassment, even if the time
and place do not seem appropriate. A short answer may be best for the moment.
Then return to the subject later.
Avoid babyish words. Using correct names for body parts and their functions
shows that they are normal and OK to talk about.
It's OK to say, "I don't know." Nobody knows everything, and when you can't
answer a question, that can be an opportunity to learn with your child. Tell
your child that you'll get the information and continue the discussion later, or
do the research together. Then be sure to do this soon. Don't duck the question
or expect your partner or a professional to handle it, although they can add to
your answer.

Some people claim that sex education encourages sexual activity; however,
studies show that the earlier you start education the better. If they are old
enough to ask questions, they are old enough to get good answers.
Practice talking about sex with your spouse, another family member or a friend.
This will help you feel more comfortable when you do talk with your child.
If your child doesn't ask, look for ways to bring up the subject. For example,
you may know a pregnant woman, watch the birth of a pet, or see a baby getting a
bath. Use a TV program or film to start a discussion. Libraries and schools have
good books about sex for all ages.

Talk about sex more than once. Children need to hear things again and again over
the years to really understand, because their level of understanding changes as
they grow older. Make certain that you talk about feelings, not just actions.
Answer the question that is asked. Respect your child's desire for information.
But, don't overload the child with too much information at once. Try to give
enough information to answer the question clearly, yet encourage further

Privacy is important, for both you and your child. If your child doesn't want to
talk, say, "OK, let's talk about it later," and do. Don't forget about it. Never
search a child's room, drawers or purse for "evidence". Never listen in on a
telephone or private conversation.

Listen to your children. They want to know that their questions and concerns are
important. The world they're growing up in is different from what yours was.
Laughing at or ignoring a child's question may stop them from asking again. They
will get information, accurate or inaccurate, from other sources.
Share your values. If your jokes, behaviour or attitudes don't show respect for
sexuality, then you cannot expect your child to be sexually healthy. They learn
attitudes about love, caring, and responsibility from you, whether you talk
about it or not. Tell your child what your values are about sex and about life.
Find out what they value in their lives.
Talk about your concern for their health and their future.
There are books which may be helpful, or you can call a local Planned Parenthood
organization or Public Health Unit -- see References/Resources

How To Talk To Your Parents About Sex
When you were younger you probably asked your parents about your body, about
where babies come from, or how they get into their "mommy's tummy". Some adults
answer such questions easily, helping the child feel comfortable about asking
more. Others are embarrassed, and may laugh, or ignore the question, or give
false information.

No matter how your questions were treated when you were younger, you can still
talk to your parents about sex. One thing is certain: parents were young once
themselves. They have felt afraid and uncertain, and have been through some of
the same experiences you're going through.

You already have a good idea of your parents' values and culture. Your own
values are formed originally from theirs, but also from your friends, other
adults, films, books, religious teaching and others. Some of your values might
be different from theirs. Some questions about sex have factual answers. Others
are a matter of what is thought to be right and wrong, good or bad.

If possible, choose a time to talk to your parent when you won't be interrupted:
in the car or the kitchen, or late at night. But, respect your parents' privacy,
just as you want them to respect yours.

If you disagree with them about "rules" or how they want you to behave, ask
yourself some questions. Have you shown them you are responsible? Are they
worried about your safety, or pregnancy, or sexually transmitted diseases? If
you make a promise, stick to it. Can you make a deal that will help you both?
Watching TV or a video together is often a good time to talk about sex. You may
state your opinion of what you've just seen. Or, when parents mention friends'
or relatives' problems or behaviour, that may be a good chance to talk.
You can open a conversation with a general question, such as "How old were you
when you had your first boy (or girl) friend?", or, "Did you ever talk to your
parents about dating?" Beginning a conversation with "I feel...", or "Could you
tell me more about..." will help. Saying "You're wrong" can make talking more

Your talk will probably go better if you stay calm. If you are angry or
emotional, it may be better to say, "I'll talk to you later," and leave the
room. This can show maturity, and give you a chance to think about what you
really want to say. It might help to rehearse what you want to say or ask

Maybe it's hard to believe, but most couples have sexual relationships most of
their lives. Because film and TV stars are young and glamorous, young people
often have the idea that their parents no longer have romance or sexual
feelings. They probably do, and they also have a lifetime of experiences.
Getting some facts can help you. Find books, or get brochures from clinics. You
can call a local Planned Parenthood organization or Public Health Unit -- see

Men's Sexual Concerns
Most men have sexual concerns at some time. They wonder about why they can't
always "get it up", whether they are impotent, or why they "come" so quickly, or
why they "come" only through masturbation and not with their partner.
There is a wide range of sexual behaviour and desire. Some people like different
positions, different techniques, and others don't. Whatever a man likes is
normal for him. He does not have to do what he believes other men do. It is
wrong to force another person into any unwanted sexual activity. Force and abuse
are criminal acts.
At some time during their lives most men find that they are not able to keep an
erection long enough to get satisfaction. It may be a result of being sick,
tired, stressed or offended by their partner, or due to alcohol, drugs or
medication. But worrying about an erection makes it less likely to happen or, if
it does, to keep it long enough. Doctors can help if there is a medical problem.
And a sex therapist can help if there is a psychological problem.

The most common sexual concern of young men is premature ejaculation, or
"coming" too quickly. This is a learned behaviour, usually from being rushed in
the past during sexual activity or masturbation. If a man begins to recognize
the feelings that come just before ejaculation, he can learn to slow down and
control these feelings. By holding hard onto the penis, by starting and stopping
his movements, he can, with practice, overcome this difficulty. Or, he can
ejaculate first, either by masturbating with his partner or by himself, then a
second ejaculation a few minutes later will be slower and more satisfying. There
are books or qualified sex therapists to help.

Sometimes a man has difficulty reaching orgasm with a partner, even though he
has no trouble becoming hard and no trouble when he masturbates. There is
usually a psychological reason for this. He may feel guilty about sexual
activity, or afraid of making a woman pregnant or getting a sexually transmitted
disease. Talking to your partner about what you like and what feels good can
help a lot. If you need help, this type of difficulty can usually be treated
very successfully by a qualified sex therapist.

You can learn more about sexuality by reading books and pamphlets, or talking to
a counsellor or doctor. You can call a local Planned Parenthood organization or
Public Health Unit -- see References/Resources.

Women's Sexual Concerns
Many women have concerns about their sexuality. They wonder if they are normal,
or why they have trouble having orgasms, or whether they don't enjoy sex as much
as other women do, or why intercourse is sometimes painful.
There is a wide range of behaviour and desire. Some people like different
positions, different techniques, and others don't. Whatever a woman likes is
normal for her. She does not have to do what she believes other women do. It is
wrong to force another person into any unwanted sexual activity. Force and abuse
are criminal acts.
Common worries are not having an orgasm or not enjoying sex. These can be helped
if a woman understands her body and can communicate with her partner. She can
learn what feels good, and what she doesn't like. The clitoris, just above the
vagina, is the source of most sexual pleasure. During intercourse the clitoris
is not usually touched in the way a woman needs. A woman or her partner can
stimulate her clitoris during "foreplay" or intercourse, or after the man
ejaculates, to help her have an orgasm. She can discover what gives her the most
pleasure, either with her partner or alone through masturbation. What a woman
likes can change during a lifetime.

When a woman is stimulated, her vagina becomes moist. This natural lubricant
makes intercourse easier. Some people use a water-based lubricant to add even
more moisture. This can be bought at a drug store, (never use petrolium based

A woman can communicate her feelings and desires to her partner through words or
body language. Partners will probably find that if they can communicate, they
will have more pleasure and satisfaction.

Fear of pregnancy, getting a sexually transmitted disease or being caught can
all keep a person from enjoying sex. Feeling tired, stress, illness and alcohol
also affect sexual feelings. Negative sexual experiences, such as abuse, rape or
just being taught that sex is dirty or wrong all have lasting effects. But
sometimes there is a physical problem that a doctor can treat. Psychological
problems can nearly always be helped by a qualified sex therapist.
You can learn more about sexuality by reading books and pamphlets, or by talking
to a counsellor or doctor if you have questions. You can call a local Planned
Parenthood organization or Public Health Unit -- see References/Resources.

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