Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sexuality: Intercourse, Sexual Organs, Concerns

Puberty in Girls
Puberty is a time of many changes. A girl's body starts changing after about age
8. Many girls worry that they are not developing fast enough, or are concerned
if they develop before their friends do. Remember, each person has her own
timetable. Some girls start puberty early, and some start later.
Most of the changes of puberty are caused by chemicals called "hormones" that
the body starts to produce. The main female hormones are estrogen and
progesterone.

Breasts start to grow when a girl is between 9 and 13. Many girls are concerned
about the size and shape of their breasts. Breasts come in many different sizes,
so girls shouldn't worry if theirs are different from their friends'. One breast
may grow more quickly than the other; however, they will be about the same size
when they finish growing. Pubic and underarm hair will start to grow next.
Menstrual periods usually start between the ages of 11 and 15; however, periods
can begin as early as 9 and as late as 17.
This is what causes a period: about once a month, a woman's body gets itself
ready for pregnancy. The lining of the womb, or uterus, starts to thicken. About
2 weeks later, one of the ovaries releases an egg, or ovum. If sperm from a
man's body does not join with the egg, that is, it is not fertilized, then the
thick lining of the uterus is not needed. In about another two weeks, her body
gets rid of this lining through the vagina. This is called having a period, or
menstruation.

Many women are uncomfortable or have cramps during their periods. Exercise, a
heating pad or hot water bottle, and a pain reliever can help. If these ideas
don't work, ask a doctor or school nurse for help.
Periods usually last between 3 and 7 days. They may be longer or shorter, and
bleeding may be heavier in some months than in others -- especially when you
first start having your period. Many things can affect your period, such as
stress or sickness or fast weight loss. After a while, most women find that
their periods become regular. Once periods are more regular, they happen about
every 21 to 35 days, or 3 to 5 weeks.

If a woman has intercourse then misses her period, she might be pregnant. If
sperm joins with an egg a pregnancy begins. The fertilized egg attaches itself
to the thick lining of her uterus and starts to grow. Her body does not get rid
of the lining and she does not have a menstrual period.
The female hormones also cause a woman's vagina to produce a discharge or mucus.
This does not hurt or itch or smell bad. However, if you have a discharge that
does hurt or itch or smell strong, see your doctor; you might have an infection.

Pimples or acne are a common problem. Some suggestions are to wash with plain
soap, not eat foods with lots of fat, not use skin moisturizers, and use lotions
with benzoyl peroxide which can be bought without prescription at a drug store.
A doctor may also be able to prescribe medication.
Body odour is caused by perspiration. Many people stop it by washing often with
regular or deodorant soap and using deodorants.
Girls usually grow quickly between 10 and 13. After their periods start, most
grow about another inch or 3 centimeters. Most reach their adult height by age
16.

Puberty may be a time of strong sexual feelings and fantasies. These feelings
may be confusing or a worry or very pleasant. Daydreaming about kissing or sex,
developing a crush, feeling romantic are all normal. Respect your body, respect
yourself for what you are today, and demand respect from others.
If you want more information, you can read books on puberty. Or, talk with
someone you trust. You can call a local Planned Parenthood organization or
Public Health Unit -- see References/Resources.


Women's Sexual Organs
A woman's sexual parts are harder to see than a man's, so many people don't know
much about them. Some women have been taught that this area of their body is
dirty or ugly, and that it is shameful to touch it or talk about it. These parts
are not dirty or shameful. Like any other parts of your body, the more you know
about how they work, the easier it is to stay healthy.
It is useful to see what this part of your body looks like. You will need a
small mirror to do this. Second, you will need some facts.
The whole area between your legs is called "the vulva". You will see two sets of
lips, called "labia". After puberty, the outer lips have pubic hair growing on
them. The inner lips vary in size and shape and colour. One lip may be larger
than the other.
Inside the lips are the clitoris and two openings. Starting at the front of the
body, where the inner labia meet, is the clitoris. In adult women, the clitoris
is about the size of the eraser on the end of a pencil. In some women, it is
covered with skin and in others it is uncovered.
The clitoris is extremely sensitive and is the source of much sexual pleasure.
Some women like to have it touched directly, when they are ready. However,
others find this painful and prefer to have the area around the clitoris rubbed.

The opening closest to the clitoris is the urethra, where urine comes out. It is
small and hard to see.
Next is the opening to the vagina. This is where menstrual blood and vaginal
discharge come out, and where the penis goes during vaginal intercourse. Sperm
travel up the vagina, through what's called the cervix, into the womb (or
uterus). If it meets and fertilizes an egg, or ovum, a pregnancy begins. When a
baby is born, it moves out of the uterus, down the vagina and out the same
opening.
Inside the vagina there is usually a thin tissue called the "hymen". Other names
for it are "cherry" and "maidenhead". The hymen can become stretched or torn by
things like using tampons and having sexual intercourse for the first time. For
some women, this can be uncomfortable and cause a bit of bleeding; others don't
even notice it.
The opening further back is the anus. It is where bowel movements come out.
From puberty, girls will notice a vaginal discharge or mucus on their underwear.
It is perfectly normal. It may be yellow or milky-white, watery or thick. The
appearance and amount of this change at different times in a woman's cycle.
These changes can help tell when she is most likely to get pregnant.
If the discharge has a strong or bad smell, if it itches, or if it is a strange
colour, it could be a sign of an infection or a sexually transmitted disease.
This should be checked by a doctor, as some of these are serious and spread
easily.
To find out more about a woman's body, get books on the subject. Talk to
someone: a parent, counsellor, or health care worker. Or, you can call a local
Planned Parenthood organization or Public Health Unit -- see
References/Resources.


Puberty in Boys
Puberty is a time of many changes. A boy's body starts changing when he is in
between 11 and 20. Many boys worry that they are not developing fast enough.
Remember, each person has his own timetable. Some boys start puberty early, and
some start later. You will go through puberty at your own speed.
Most of the changes of puberty are caused by the male hormone testosterone which
the body is starting to produce. Testosterone is made in the testicles. The
testicles are inside a sac or bag below the penis, called the scrotum.
As the amount of testosterone increases, the scrotum gets darker. The penis and
testicles start to grow. Pubic hair also starts to grow. Underarm and facial
hair will come later. The voice gets deeper, and sometimes may crack or break.
In the throat, the Adam's apple, or larynx, gets bigger. Some boys swell a
little under their nipples, but this usually goes away.
The testicles start to produce sperm. This will continue for the rest of a man's
life. Sperm are released in a white fluid called "semen". Sometimes semen is
released from the penis during sleep. This is called a "wet dream", and it is
normal and harmless.
Some people think that you can tell the size of a man's penis by other physical
characteristics, like the size of his feet or his race. These beliefs are not
true. It is also not true that the size of a man's penis affects his partner's
sexual satisfaction.
An erection, or "hard-on", may occur at unexpected times. This can be
embarrassing, but it is normal. It is not necessary to ejaculate or "come", even
for years, in order to be healthy.
Pimples or acne are a common problem. Washing with plain soap, avoiding foods
with lots of fat, using lotions with benzoyl peroxide which are available
without prescription at drug stores, or a visit to the doctor may help. Body
odour is caused by perspiration, and can be helped by washing with plain soap or
deodorant soaps and using deodorants.
Most boys grow quickly between ages 12 and 15. By 18, most stop growing, but
muscles will continue to develop.
Puberty may be a time of strong sexual feelings and fantasies. These feelings
may be confusing, and may cause both concern and pleasure; however, they are
normal. If you are worried, find books about puberty, or talk with someone you
trust. You can call a local Planned Parenthood organization or Public Health
Unit -- see References/Resources.


Men's Sexual Organs
A man's most obvious sex organ is his penis. Penis size has nothing to do with
how tall or muscular a man is, his race, or any other physical characteristic.
The size of a penis when it is soft has little to do with its size when it is
erect.
Men with big penises are not more masculine or manly. They do not make more
sperm than men with small penises. And, the size of a man's penis has nothing to
do with how much he and his partner enjoy sex.
At the tip of the penis is the opening where urine comes out. When the man is
sexually excited a clear fluid will come from this opening. This contains sperm
and is natural. The opening is also where semen comes out when a man ejaculates
or "comes".
Some men have been circumcised. This can be for health or religious reasons. It
means that a part of the foreskin has been removed from around the head of the
penis. This changes the appearance of the penis and may make it easier to keep
the penis clean, but has no other effect.
A penis becomes erect when blood rushes to it, causing it to become hard and
stick up or out from the body. This is often called a "hard-on" or a "boner".
Some erections happen unexpectedly, often when they aren't wanted. They may
happen when a boy or man is thinking sexual thoughts, when he is excited or
anxious, or sometimes when he is not thinking about anything in particular. This
may be embarrassing but it is normal.
Behind the penis are the testicles or "balls". They are in a sac called the
"scrotum". One may be larger and hang lower than the other. Sperm need to be
cooler than the body to live -- this is why the testicles are outside the body.
Most lumps or bumps in the scrotum are harmless pouches of fluid, called cysts.
Some go away by themselves, others need to be removed by surgery. A lump in the
scrotum could also be a sign of cancer. It is important to have any lump checked
by a doctor. Your doctor can also show you how to examine your testicles
regularly. The best time to do this is after a hot bath or shower. The Canadian
and American Cancer Societies have literature on this subject.
If you want more information on men's sexual organs, find books on the topic.
Talk with your parents, someone at a clinic or a family planning centre. Or, you
can call a local Planned Parenthood organization or Public Health Unit -- see
References/Resources.


Some Ideas About Sex: What Guys and Girls Think
There are almost as many ways to think about sex as there are people. Some of
these ideas are true and some are not.
Many people think that all guys are only interested in having intercourse. But,
boys and men vary in their interest in sex, and their interest changes with
other changes in their lives. Men can have and express tender feelings, and
appreciate closeness and affection.
Girls and women also have very strong feelings. They often want and enjoy sex,
as well as caring, loving relationships.
Both males and females need to express feelings. Good, positive relationships
are important to both guys and girls. Sometimes people exaggerate their
partner's commitment, to impress their friends, or for their own sense of
security. Sometimes feelings get confused.

The first sexual intercourse can be exciting, scary, pleasurable, and even
disappointing, for both guys and girls. Many young couples know they're not
ready. Maybe it isn't the "right" time or the "right" person; they don't know
each other well enough; they want to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted
diseases. Or, maybe they just feel too confused and need more time to sort out
their feelings. Kissing, hugging, touching, mutual masturbation or rubbing
genitals to reach orgasm, can be safe, satisfying alternatives to intercourse.
These types of sexual activity are called outercourse. Discuss sex, one step at
a time, to make sure that both of you are ready for any steps you take.
We get ideas about sex from television, movies, music, ads, jokes, friends and
family. You need to sort out your own ideas and values, what it is you want.
Sometimes, one partner tries to pressure the other into becoming sexually
active. Knowing your values and what you want will help you in this situation.
No means No. Respect your partner and respect yourself. Sexual assault, even in
a marriage or dating relationship, is a criminal offense. Only yes means yes.
Neither guys nor girls know all about sex. Take time to communicate your
feelings and get to know your partner.

Similar interests and values between partners help make a relationship stronger,
more satisfying and longer-lasting. Even happily married couples do not always
want sex at the same time, nor do they have orgasms at the same moment.
If a person carries a condom it doesn't mean that he or she is "easy" or expects
"action". It means the person is thinking, being prepared, and will have
protection if they decide to include intercourse in their sexual relationship.
If you want more information, find books, read other Facts of Life Netline
messages, or talk to an adult you respect and trust. You can call a local
Planned Parenthood organization or Public Health Unit -- see
References/Resources.


Making Decisions about Intercourse, and How to Say "No"
Growing up involves learning to make decisions and living with them. When you
begin to care for and be attracted to someone, then it is time to take a good
look at yourself, your values and goals. How far do you want to go with that
person now? Later?

It's important to talk about your feelings. Becoming sexually active means
looking at the relationship and examining why you want to have intercourse. It
means taking responsibility for preventing an unplanned pregnancy and the spread
of sexually transmitted diseases. Many couples decide not to include sexual
intercourse in their activities because of the risks, or because they just don't
feel ready.

So, how do you say "no" without hurting the other person, making him or her
dislike you and say bad things about you? How do you say "no" so that the other
person knows you really mean it? Here are some things to think about:
1. Work out an understanding with your partner. Talk things over before they go
further than you both want.
2. Remind yourself that your partner doesn't need to have sexual intercourse; if
you can wait, your partner can wait.
3. You don't have to explain, but you can give a reason if you want to, such as
"I've made up my mind to wait," or "I'm not ready to get involved."
4. Remember how important birth control and parenthood are.
5. It's easy to get a sexually transmitted disease. These may be painful or
uncomfortable, and can cause infertility or sterility. "Infertility" means being
unable to have a baby, and "sterility" means being unable to father a child.
6. Respect yourself. Know that the right person will wait for you.
7. Consider your goals for yourself in education, career and other areas of your
life.
8. Believe in yourself. Remember your personal values, and do what is right for
you.
In some relationships, guys or girls try to talk another person into
intercourse. Some lines that people use are:
"If you really love me you'll prove it."


"Everybody's doing it."


"I'll take care of you."


"I'll stop before you could get pregnant."


"If you don't want to have sex with me I'll leave you."
or,


"I'll find somebody who will."


Remember, no one has the right to pressure you into having intercourse. It's
your decision.
Sometimes people feel that having intercourse will solve their problems. Some
unhealthy reasons for having intercourse are:
You want to hold onto a relationship that's breaking up.


Your friends are all doing it (or say they are).


You want to prove that you are very feminine or very masculine.


You want to get pregnant to make him marry you.


You've had intercourse before; there's no point in holding back any more.


You were high and it just happened.


If you are ready to have sexual intercourse, then you need to be ready to take
responsibility for birth control and avoiding the spread of sexually transmitted
diseases. Relying on luck is not good enough. Find out as much as you can so you
can make the best choice. Kissing, hugging, petting, mutual masturbation all can
be healthier and safer than intercourse -- and just as sexy.
The more sure you are of yourself, the less likely you are to be flattered or
frightened into doing something you're not ready for. Think carefully. Avoid
alcohol and drugs, as well as people or situations that keep you from thinking
for yourself. Talk things over with someone you trust. You have many choices,
make the decisions that seem best for you. You deserve that!
You can read other Facts of Life Netline messages about sexuality. Talk to
someone you respect and trust. Or, you can call a local Planned Parenthood
organization or Public Health Unit -- see References/Resources.


Sexual Concerns of Teens
Teenagers have many questions about sexuality. One of the most common is "Am I
normal?" Most teens are concerned about body changes, fantasies, being sexually
attracted to others and having sexual feelings. Teens are also curious about
heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, masturbation, sexual satisfaction
and just feeling OK about being curious. You may also have questions about birth
control, pregnancy, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases and how to make
decisions. It is normal to be interested in all of these. You may find answers
to some of your questions in other Facts of Life Netline messages.
Normal sexual body changes for a woman occur between 8 and 18 years of age.
Changes in the amount of special chemicals in her body, called "hormones" cause
her breasts, usterus, ovaries and vagina to develop. These changes can affect
her feelings about her body. Hormones are also connected to menstruation or
periods. Menstruation is one sign that a girl is physically changing into a
woman.

For a young man, sexual body changes occur between 11 and 20 years of age. They
include growth in the size of the testicles and the scrotum, or sac, that holds
the testicles. Hormones start to make sperm in the testicles. Many boys have
"wet dreams", a release of white fluid from their penis during sleep. The fluid
is called "semen" and contains sperm. Wet dreams are a sign that a boy is
physically changing into a man. A clear fluid can come out of an aroused penis
before ejaculation; it also contains sperm.
Masturbation, or rubbing your own body for sexual pleasure, is normal. It is
done by young and old people, men and women. It can also be done with a partner,
when the couple isn't ready for intercourse, or to avoid pregnancy or spreading
a sexually transmitted disease.
Pregnancy occurs if a woman's egg is fertilized by a man's sperm. Usually, the
first sign of a pregnancy is missing a period. At that time, the woman is
probably about six weeks pregnant.

Missing a period may be caused by many things other than pregnancy: illness,
stress, change in diet, etc. But, if a woman has had intercourse she should get
a pregnancy test right away. If a couple has unprotected intercourse or if the
condom breaks, and they do not want to start a pregnancy, the woman may go to a
doctor or clinic and ask for the "Morning After Pill". But, she has to get the
Morning After Pill within 3 days of the intercourse. Or, she might be able to
get a "post-coital IUD" within 5 to 7 days, to stop pregnancy.
A woman who is pregnant has three choices: having the baby and keeping it,
giving it up for adoption, or having an abortion. You may want to read to the Facts of Life Netline messages about these.

For some young men and women, hormone changes can cause "mood swings". Sexual
feelings and fantasies and feelings can also increase because of hormone
changes. Some young people have very strong desires and spend a lot of time
daydreaming. It is common to be concerned about what others think of them, get
confused, rebel and worry about the future.
It's also normal to be curious about heterosexuality -- sexual relationships
with someone of the opposite sex, homosexuality -- or sexual relationships with
someone of the same sex, and bisexuality -- sexual relationships with people of
both sexes. You might find it helpful to talk over your thoughts and feelings
with someone you trust, such as your parents, a counsellor, a teacher, a school
nurse, your doctor, a clergyperson or a friend. The Facts of Life Netline
message on Homosexuality, under Sexuality in the Index, gives more information.

There are many books about teenage questions and concerns. Two books are The
Teenage Body Book and Changing Bodies, Changing Lives. You might also read the
Facts of Netlife Line message on Making Decisions About Sex, also in the Index
under Sexuality, or other topics. Or, you can call a local Planned Parenthood
organization or Public Health Unit -- see References/Resources.

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