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12 common teen Questions about Sex & Sexuality

By Leslie Massicotte, Teens Climb High Program Assistant


Asking questions about sex can be embarrassing. That’s why, when teaching youth about sexuality, my co-facilitator and I always offer a Question Box. The Question Box is a nondescript box in our classroom in which students anonymously submit any and all sexuality related questions and the facilitators answer them with factual, straightforward information.


Below is a sample list of questions we’ve received from our 9th grade students over the past year. Take a look--maybe you’ve had the same question too!--and check out what teens are wondering these days!


1. Does sex hurt for ladies?

Nope! It shouldn’t. Making sure all partners are aroused (turned on), interested and willing to have sex (consenting), and that the genitals are well lubricated (wet enough from genital fluids or store-bought lubrication) will prevent any physical pain during sexual intercourse. If the pain continues, talk to your partner about how to make it better and/or talk to a medical professional because it could indicate a more serious medical problem.


2. Does penis size matter?

Nope. You can enjoy a various range of sexual activities regardless of penis size!


3. Can you have sex and get pregnant on your period?

Yes! People do have sex on their period and can get pregnant. There is no 100% safe time of the month to have sex to avoid a pregnancy because sperm can live in the vagina for up to 3-5 days. Some folks choose to use a period tracking method to only engage in sexual intercourse when the chances of pregnancy are less likely but this is not a 100% reliable method.


4. How can a person be asexual?

There are many sexual orientations, and asexuality is one of them. Some people just aren’t interested in having sex and that’s ok. People who are asexual may still desire emotionally intimate relationships; sex just doesn’t necessarily have to be involved. Several types of asexuality include being aromatic (experiencing little or no interest in romantic attraction), demisexual (only experiencing sexual attraction once a strong emotional connection is formed with another person), and queer platonic (having a non-romantic friendship that goes beyond the emotional connection of a just friendship).


5. Does popping the cherry hurt?

“Popping the cherry” is a slang term for having sexual intercourse for the first time. This is also commonly called “losing your virginity.” Historically for women, losing our virginity or popping the cherry meant that the small flap of skin that covers the vagina (also called the hymen; females assigned at birth are typically born with this) is not yet broken. However, the hymen can stretch or break from a number of different activities including riding a bike or playing sports so this is not an accurate measure of virginity. Also when considering virginity, are you still a virgin if you’ve had oral sex? If you’ve kissed someone? If someone has touched your genitals?


As for if breaking the hymen hurts, generally not, although sometimes there can be a bit of blood. Having sexual intercourse for the first time shouldn’t hurt, if both partners are sufficiently aroused (turned on) and lubricated (wet enough from genital fluids or store-bought lubrication) to smoothly insert a penis, fingers, or anything else.


6. How do you use a tampon?

Tampons and pads are used to catch menstrual blood. A tampon is a small cotton tube with a string attached that is placed inside the vagina. There are many different sizes and brands. They are great to use for sports or swimming since they are less bulky than pads. However, they may take a little practice to insert and get used to. They should never feel painful. Here are the steps to insert a tampon:

  • Unwrap the tampon with clean hands.

  • Sit or stand in a comfortable position. Some people prefer to place one leg on the toilet seat or bathtub, while others prefer to squat down.

  • Open the labia (the folds of skin around the vaginal opening) and position the tampon in the vaginal opening with the string pointing away from the body.

  • Gently push the tampon into the opening, aiming for your lower back. It takes some practice to get the angle right.

  • Make sure that the string hangs outside of the vaginal opening. When you are ready to remove the tampon, hold the string and gently pull it downward until the entire tampon is out. Tampons should be replaced every 4-6 hours.


7. Does masturbation affect your future sex life in any way, good or bad?

For some, masturbation can be a great way to learn about your body and what feels good in a risk-free way. This knowledge and experience of your own body can lend to more positive sexual experiences for some. It's worth noting that relying solely on pornography (sexually explicit videos) to get aroused and masturbate has been shown to cause some problems with arousal with an actual partner. This is because most pornography only shows people with “perfect” bodies, doesn’t include consent or intimacy, and often is directed towards male pleasure alone—and these are unrealistic and often undesirable situations in real life. For other people, masturbation is not something they choose to engage in and that's ok, too.


8. Is corona virus an STI (sexually transmitted infection)?

No, COVID-19, or the strain of the corona virus currently affecting folks worldwide, is not passed sexually. Researchers believe it is passed between people who are in close contact with one another and through respiratory droplets from coughs or sneezes.


9. How do you know what your sexuality is if you have never had sex?

Sexuality encompasses a lot of different things: your sexual identity (like gender and sexual orientation), reproductive health (like anatomy and birth control options), intimacy (feeling close to people in your life), sensuality (feeling sexy and turned on), and sexualization (witnessing or experiencing unequal power dynamics like rape, harassment, and explicit media images). So, there are many ways to figure out and explore your sexuality without having sex. Related to sexual identity, many young people around puberty begin having crushes on different people and begin to have an idea of who they are attracted to. This continues to develop through adolescence and into adulthood. Experimentation with dating, kissing, hand holding, and other no- or low-risk behaviors can also help determine who you are attracted to and how you want to express yourself sexually. But remember that sexuality is not just about who you like; it’s also about how you’re going to express your values, experience pleasure, and make decisions about your own sexual health.


10. If two gay people have sex, should they each have a condom on?

No. You never want to have two condoms rubbing against each other because the friction will cause them to break. If a penis is being inserted into another person’s body, this penis would wear the condom. For oral sex, the person receiving the blow job could wear a condom to protect against STIs as well.


11. How can you get an STI through lesbian sex?

Two women with vulvas having sex with each other are not at risk for pregnancy but it’s true that they are at risk for STIs, including herpes, HPV, pubic lice, and trichomoniasis. STIs can be passed from skin-to-skin genital contact so if two vulvas are rubbed together, this can pass STIs. Dental dams (square sheets of latex used to cover the vulva) can be used whenever engaging in vulva-to-vulva contact to protect from getting STIs. Also, any time that sex toys are used with partners, using a condom to cover sex toys and washing them with soap and water are both important to preventing the spread of STIs.


12. Is having an orgasm the term for “squirting”? People say something about a “G spot”—can you explain or confirm?

Squirting is different from an orgasm. An orgasm is a release of sexual tension, or the climax of sexual pleasure, which is often accompanied by faster heart rate and breathing and contractions of the genital muscles. Some people may ejaculate when having an orgasm; for people with vulvas, this is commonly called “squirting”. During this ejaculation, a clear liquid comes from the Skene’s glands close to the urethra where the pee comes out. For other people, orgasm is not accompanied by ejaculation—both are normal.


The G-spot, or Grafenberg spot, definitely exists! It is a small area of spongy tissue inside the vagina on the upper vaginal wall closest to the belly button that can be sensitive and swell during sexual arousal. Some people like their G-spot to be stimulated (and for some, this can cause orgasm) and others don’t.


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