A student from George Mason wants to know...
How do you decide to have sex with someone when you're torn between fear of disease and a need for closeness? Female, First-Year
Dr. Caron's Answer:
I would like to point out that a couple can be close or intimate without putting each other at risk for a disease. Affection and playfulness do not necessarily imply sexual involvement. In terms of sexual involvement, certainly it's hard to have a good time or enjoy yourself if you're afraid of catching a disease. Recognize that there is a continuum of behaviors you can engage in - ranging from safe to unsafe sex practices. It's helpful to take time to determine your exact position regarding the level of involvement you are comfortable with and to examine issues around protection. What are your limits? For example, "I will only have sex in a committed relationship." or "I will have intercourse only with condoms." or "I will only have sex with protection (i.e., condoms) and only after I've gotten to know my partner over a period of time." It's a lot easier to choose what to say to your partner if you've already determined what your limits are. And following through on your decisions means being able to talk about them: It's important to talk to your partner about what feels right for you. Other practical suggestions include: talking with your partner about their sex history, examining your partner's genitals for signs of infection, washing before and after sex, using a condom, and making an appointment for both of you to have an STI check-up. You will enjoy your sexual relationship more once you both have a clean bill of health.
student from UC Santa Cruz wants to know...
am a 20 year old college student and the unique part
about me from the rest of the college students is that
I haven't had sex yet because I feel that it is my choice
and I should only do it at a right time with the right
person. I have had many females friends that wanted to
have sex with me when they drank, but I refused their
requests because I think they are being irresponsible
in their attitudes. Now I know that especially in today's
college and high school atmosphere, being a virgin makes
you a loser. But I totally disagree on that and believe
that sex isn't a childish game, it is a choice and you
should only do it when you think you are ready and responsible
for it. What do you think?
I couldn't agree with you more. Sex is something
that should be engaged in when one feels it is right for
them. If intimacy equals sex, as some believe, than people
who don't engage in sexual intercourse are defined as leading
very dull lives. With this argument, virginity is
than a state we want to leave. This view is too simplistic,
only serving to pressure people like yourself to have sexual
important to remember that virginity, like sexual activity,
is a matter of choice. Some men and women choose
to wait until they are in what they consider to be a long-term
relationship before they become sexually involved and some
do not. Being a virgin does not mean you are not sexual,
or that you do not have an intimate relationship; virginity
is an acceptable alternative to sexual intercourse. What
is best for you is for you alone to decide.
A student from the University of Conneticut wants to know....
was watching an old episode of "Sex and the City" recently
and they brought up the topic of women regaining virginity
after a year of not having sex. I am guessing sex in this
case is sexual intercourse. I have asked a few of my friends
about this topic and all of them have given me huge grief
about it. Is it not true that the vagina regenerates itself
and therefore virginity can be almost physically regained?
answer: I have heard more and more people ask about this - and
I believe it is due to the rise in "reclaim
your virginity" and "secondary virginity' programs
that are springing up in conservative corners of our educational
system. No-I'm not aware of any vagina regenerating itself
(whatever that means!) or the hymen "growing back." By
definition, after experiencing sexual intercourse you would
not qualify as a virgin again even if you didn't have sex
for 1 or even 10 years -celibate maybe, but not a virgin.
A virgin refers to someone who's never had sexual intercourse.
The hymen (a thin tissue membrane that covers part of the
vaginal opening) has been regarded throughout history as
proof of virginity. Yet the absence or presence of a hymen
is unreliable as an indicator of a woman's virginity or non-virginity.
Some women are born without a hymen, others have a hymen
that has been stretched or torn through normal exercise or
insertion of tampons/fingers.
from TWU wants to know.....
I have been dating my boyfriend for 2 1/2 years. I think that
I am ready to have sex, but have always been told to wait
till I am married. I do not want to disappoint my mother by
going through with it, but I do love my boyfriend, and I am
almost positive that I am ready. Any thoughts?
response: The right time varies from person to person,
depending on your values and beliefs. Some people feel the
only appropriate time to become sexually involved is after
the couple is in a committed relationship (e.g., married)
while others feel no commitment is necessary, in fact knowing
their sexual partners name may not even be important.
If you are unsure if this is the right time to become sexually
involved, you may want to spend time talking this over with
your partner. If you are unsure, it is always better to err
on the side of waiting, rather than doing something you may
regret later. Certainly, any sexual relationship should be
based on mutual consent. Some other guidelines indicating
you might be ready for sex include:
*You're ready for sex if you're not trying to prove your love,
increase your self-worth, prove you're mature, or rebel against
parents or society;
*You're ready for sex if it will be an expression of your
current feelings rather than an attempt to improve a poor
relationship or one that is growing old;
*You're ready for sex if you can discuss and agree on an effective
method of birth control and share the details, responsibilities,
*Finally, you are ready for sex if you can discuss sexually
transmitted diseases, including HIV, and provide protection.
Deciding whether or not to become sexually involved is an
important decision, a choice we make for ourselves. It should
be a responsible one and it's yours alone. Not something your
mother makes for you, or your partner. No one should force
or push you into it. Don't wait until the last minute to decide;
there are lots of things to consider. You decide!
student from Trinity College wants to know
I hear so much talk about abstaining
from sex before marriage - but my question is this: If I were
to believe in no sex before marriage, how would I know the
man I was to marry would be sexually compatible for me?
Sexually compatibility has little to do with the performance
per se. Instead, I would want to know how compatible you are
in your relationship. For example, is he sensitive to your
needs? Does he respect your feelings? Is he able to listen
to what you have to say without becoming defensive? Does he
like to do things for you? Can you communicate with him? Are
you in touch with what you want and do you feel comfortable
expressing your needs and desires. Again, I am referring to
things that happen in your relationship generally - not just
sexually. I believe compatibility has more to do with how
well you relate to one another in general in various circumstances.
If you truly are right for each other, the sexual mechanics
will be resolved with time and experience.
a student at the University of Tennessee -- Knoxville:
It strikes me odd, but for some reason,
being a virgin is a huge turn-off for most women that I meet.
Why? Do they think that since I am a virgin, no one else wants
me, so I'm worthless? Or, are they just thinking with their
sexual desires instead of their head? Either way, it is hard
being a virgin in college. Thanks.
right - it can be difficult being a virgin in college -when
it feels like "everyone is doing it" when in fact,
they are not. I think it has to do with the messages we receive
from the media about sexuality and relationships, as well
as peer pressure. For example: If intimacy equals sex, as
some believe, then people who don't engage in sexual intercourse
are automatically defined as leading very dull lives. With
this argument, virginity is then a state we want to leave.
This view is too simplistic, only serving to pressure people
to have sexual intercourse.
I think this is
true especially when we look at how we socialize boys. We
give many, many messages to boys as they are growing up to
be competent, to be knowledgeable, and to be in charge - in
such areas as sports, social performance, etc. As a result,
both men and women assume all guys are supposed to know and
be competent in everything - even in sexual matters - before
they have the experience. If he is not experienced sexually,
some people (men and women) may view him as different and
ask "what is wrong with him?" when there is nothing
wrong at all.
It is important
to remember that virginity, like sexual activity, is a matter
of choice. It sounds like some of the women you have met have
forgotten this point. Some men and women choose to wait until
they are in what they consider a long-term relationship before
they become sexually involved and some do not. Being a virgin
does not mean you are not sexual, or that you do not have
an intimate relationship; virginity is an acceptable alternative
to sexual intercourse. What is best for you is for you alone
to decide. Remember: You are in charge of your own body.
from a student at Fresno State: I'm
not sure what to do. My boyfriend and I have a great time
together but in many ways we're not the same. In fact, the
longer we go out, the more pronounced our differences become.
He feels that it's okay to have sex before marriage, while
I believe in waiting. I don't want to break up with him -
but it doesn't seem possible to continue dating, if you know
what I mean.
seem to be dealing with is incompatible sexual values between
you and your boyfriend. Have you been able to talk with him
about this? What is his opinion? Are you feeling pressured?
What are the things that hold your relationship together?
Are you compatible in many other areas?
sexual values are an important consideration in dating. However,
you should know that some couples develop and maintain a relationship
in spite of differences between their sexual values. For example,
a person who values sexual monogamy may become involved with
a person who values sexual variety with multiple partners.
from a student at Old Dominion: Is it
wrong of me to have sex with a good "friend" that I have known
since middle school. We have both talked about it and said
that we would keep it between us...Is that a bad thing?
depends on your value system. I can't answer this for you.
Some things you might want to consider are: What are the reasons
the other person is interested in having sex with you? What
do you want in terms of a relationship with this person the
next morning? Do you want to continue to be just "good" friends?
Some people have sex for fun, as a way to forget troubles
and relieve tension. Many others cannot separate sex from
all other aspects of their relationship. Each begins to affect
the other. Keep in mind that resentments, tensions, feelings
of being used by the other, and fears about the relationship
can arise. Some people who start out wanting just a fun sexual
relationship with a "good" friend often become emotionally
involved without intending to do so. Emotional involvement
can lead to anxiety about what a relationship means, where
each stands in the other's eyes, and what plans are in the
future. It is hard, and unacceptable for most, to carry on
a long-term sexual relationship without emotional involvement.
Recreational sex with friends (or even strangers) as such
may not be a problem for some unattached, consenting adults
on a short-term basis. Many people can and do have sex without
love, but many also prefer sex with love.
from a student at Ohio State University: I
find myself attracted to my roommate's boyfriend and he makes
passes at me when she's not around. If I follow my true feelings
my friend will be hurt, but should I sacrifice my happiness
Female, First-Year student
In terms of your friend/roommate being hurt, I think she is
being hurt already. She's seeing a guy who isn't being honest
with her. And you, as her friend, are not being honest. Someone
needs to start talking. In this situation, it sounds like
your roommate's "boyfriend" needs to have a serious discussion
with her about how he's feeling. It isn't doing her any good
to be led on. In addition, if you really feel strongly about
developing a relationship with this guy, you'll need to talk
with her about how you're feeling. It may be true that you
will have to choose between your friend/roommate and this
guy. I wouldn't be surprised if you loose a roommate over
this. You need to decide what's more important in the long