Information about sex and sexual relationships that adults teach to young people, especially in school. Sex education is a broad term used to describe education about human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual intercourse, and other aspects of human sexual behavior.
Sex education is telling people about sexual intercourse. Usually, parents tell their children when they reach puberty. This usually includes things like how to make babies, how to protect against unwanted pregnancies, and how not to get any of the sexually transmitted diseases there are. In many cultures speaking about sex or sexual education is a taboo.
Some level of sex education is also done in school; in many places, the government passed laws that say that sex education must be done in school. Some parts of sex education vary by culture, e.g. the moral and ethic aspects.
Sex education is the instruction of issues relating to human sexuality, including emotional relations and responsibilities, human sexual anatomy, sexual activity, sexual reproduction, age of consent, reproductive health, reproductive rights, safe sex, birth control and sexual abstinence.
What is Sex?
Sex refers to the biological differences between males and females, such as the genitalia and genetic differences. “Gender” is more difficult to define, but it can refer to the role of a male or female in society, known as a gender role, or an individual’s concept of themselves, or gender identity.
Historically, the terms “sex” and “gender” have been used interchangeably, but their uses are becoming increasingly distinct, and it is important to understand the differences between the two.
Sex means different things to different people. Above all, it is a healthy and natural activity. It is something most people enjoy and find meaningful even if they create meaning in different ways.
Whether you are straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer or questioning, you have the right to decide what sex means to you.
Are you unsure about your sexual interests? Are you curious about what you might enjoy? Are you wondering if you are ready for sex? These kinds of questions are perfectly normal!
Sex is not just vaginal* intercourse. Sex is pretty much anything that feels sexual. How YOU choose to define sex might be a moving target during your teen years. Your sexual interests may change over time, and that’s okay too.
One of the basic properties of life is reproduction, the capacity to generate new individuals, and sex is an aspect of this process. Life has evolved from simple stages to more complex ones, and so have the reproduction mechanisms. Initially the reproduction was a replicating process that consists in producing new individuals that contain the same genetic information as the original or parent individual. This mode of reproduction is called asexual, and it is still used by many species, particularly unicellular, but it is also very common in multicellular organisms, including many of those with sexual reproduction. In sexual reproduction, the genetic material of the offspring comes from two different individuals. Bacteria reproduce asexually, but undergo a process by which a part of the genetic material of an individual donor is transferred to another recipient.
Disregarding intermediates, the basic distinction between asexual and sexual reproduction is the way in which the genetic material is processed. Typically, prior to an asexual division, a cell duplicates its genetic information content, and then divides. This process of cell division is called mitosis. In sexual reproduction, there are special kinds of cells that divide without prior duplication of its genetic material, in a process named meiosis. The resulting cells are called gametes, and contain only half the genetic material of the parent cells. These gametes are the cells that are prepared for the sexual reproduction of the organism. Sex comprises the arrangements that enable sexual reproduction, and has evolved alongside the reproduction system, starting with similar gametes (isogamy) and progressing to systems that have different gamete types, such as those involving a large female gamete (ovum) and a small male gamete (sperm).
In complex organisms, the sex organs are the parts that are involved in the production and exchange of gametes in sexual reproduction. Many species, both plants and animals, have sexual specialization, and their populations are divided into male and female individuals. Conversely, there are also species in which there is no sexual specialization, and the same individuals both contain masculine and feminine reproductive organs, and they are called hermaphrodites. This is very frequent in plants.
Sexual reproduction in eukaryotes is a process whereby organisms produce offspring that combine genetic traits from both parents. Chromosomes are passed on from one generation to the next in this process. Each cell in the offspring has half the chromosomes of the mother and half of the father. Genetic traits are contained within the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of chromosomes—by combining one of each type of chromosomes from each parent, an organism is formed containing a doubled set of chromosomes. This double-chromosome stage is called “diploid“, while the single-chromosome stage is “haploid“. Diploid organisms can, in turn, form haploid cells (gametes) that randomly contain one of each of the chromosome pairs, via meiosis. Meiosis also involves a stage of chromosomal crossover, in which regions of DNA are exchanged between matched types of chromosomes, to form a new pair of mixed chromosomes. Crossing over and fertilization (the recombining of single sets of chromosomes to make a new diploid) result in the new organism containing a different set of genetic traits from either parent.
In many organisms, the haploid stage has been reduced to just gametes specialized to recombine and form a new diploid organism. In plants the diploid organism produces haploid spores that undergo cell division to produce multicellular haploid organisms known as gametophytes that produce haploid gametes at maturity. In either case, gametes may be externally similar, particularly in size (isogamy), or may have evolved an asymmetry such that the gametes are different in size and other aspects (anisogamy). By convention, the larger gamete (called an ovum, or egg cell) is considered female, while the smaller gamete (called a spermatozoon, or sperm cell) is considered male. An individual that produces exclusively large gametes is female, and one that produces exclusively small gametes is male. An individual that produces both types of gametes is a hermaphrodite; in some cases hermaphrodites are able to self-fertilize and produce offspring on their own, without a second organism.
Sexual intercourse may be called coitus, copulation, coition, or intercourse. Coitus is derived from the Latin word coitio or coire, meaning “a coming together or joining together” or “to go together”, and is known under different ancient Latin names for a variety of sexual activities, but usually denotes penile–vaginal penetration. This is often called vaginal intercourse or vaginal sex. Vaginal sex, and less often vaginal intercourse, may also denote any vaginal sexual activity, particularly if penetrative, including sexual activity between lesbian couples. Copulation, by contrast, more often denotes the mating process, especially for non-human animals; it can mean a variety of sexual activities between opposite-sex or same-sex pairings, but generally means the sexually reproductive act of transferring sperm from a male to a female or sexual procreation between a man and a woman.
Although sex and “having sex” also most commonly denote penile–vaginal intercourse, sex can be significantly broad in its meaning and may cover any penetrative or non-penetrative sexual activity between two or more people. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that non-English languages and cultures use different words for sexual activity, “with slightly different meanings”. Various vulgarisms, slang, and euphemisms are used for sexual intercourse or other sexual activity, such as fuck, shag, and the phrase “sleep together”. The laws of some countries use the euphemism “carnal knowledge.” Penetration of the vagina by the erect penis is additionally known as intromission, or by the Latin name immissio penis (Latin for “insertion of the penis”). The age of first sexual intercourse is called sexarche.
Vaginal, anal and oral sex are recognized as sexual intercourse more often than other sexual behaviors. Sexual activity that does not involve penile-vaginal sex or other sexual penetration might be used to retain virginity (sometimes called “technical virginity)” or labeled “outercourse”. One reason virginity loss is often based on penile–vaginal intercourse is because heterosexual couples may engage in anal or oral sex as a way of being sexually active while maintaining that they are virgins since they have not engaged in the reproductive act of coitus. Some gay men consider frotting or oral sex as a way of maintaining their virginities, with penile-anal penetration used as sexual intercourse and for virginity loss, while other gay men may consider frotting or oral sex as their main forms of sexual activity. Lesbians may categorize oral sex or fingering as sexual intercourse and subsequently an act of virginity loss, or tribadism as a primary form of sexual activity.
Researchers commonly use sexual intercourse to denote penile–vaginal intercourse while using specific words, such as anal sex or oral sex, for other sexual behaviors. Scholars Richard M. Lerner and Laurence Steinberg state that researchers also “rarely disclose” how they conceptualize sex “or even whether they resolved potential discrepancies” in conceptualizations of sex. Lerner and Steinberg attribute researchers’ focus on penile–vaginal sex to “the larger culture’s preoccupation with this form of sexual activity,” and have expressed concern that the “widespread, unquestioned equation of penile–vaginal intercourse with sex reflects a failure to examine systematically ‘whether the respondent’s understanding of the question [about sexual activity] matches what the researcher had in mind’”. This focus can also relegate other forms of mutual sexual activity to foreplay or contribute to them not being regarded as “real sex”, and limits the meaning of rape. It may also be that conceptually conflating sexual activity with vaginal intercourse and sexual function hinders and limits information about sexual behavior that non-heterosexual people may be engaging in, or information about heterosexuals who may be engaging in non–vaginal sexual activity.
Studies regarding the meaning of sexual intercourse sometimes conflict. While most consider penile–vaginal intercourse to be sex, whether anal or oral intercourse are considered sex is more debatable, with oral sex ranking lowest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that “although there are only limited national data about how often adolescents engage in oral sex, some data suggest that many adolescents who engage in oral sex do not consider it to be ‘sex’; therefore they may use oral sex as an option to experience sex while still, in their minds, remaining abstinent”. Upton et al. stated, “It is possible that individuals who engage in oral sex, but do not consider it as ‘sex’, may not associate the acts with the potential health risks they can bring.” In other cases, condom use is a factor, with some men stating that sexual activity involving the protection of a condom is not “real sex” or “the real thing”. This view is common among men in Africa, where sexual activity involving the protection of a condom is often associated with emasculation because condoms prevent direct penile–to–skin genital contact.
If you were shy about talking about sex. You can simply follow these steps.
- A simple place to start the chat is with yourself.
- Take some time to privately explore all parts of your own body. While you are at it, think about what thoughts, fantasies and sensations feel good for you and how you might like to experience sexual pleasure with someone else.
Sex just doesn’t feel right for me. Is that okay?
- Yes, this is definitely ok. Only you can decide what feels right for you when it comes to sex.
- You have the right to say no to sex. No one can or should force you to do something that doesn’t feel right.
- If, for example, vaginal sex is not something you want to do, there are many other ways to explore your sexuality and enjoy a fun and loving relationship with someone else.
- Sexual activity is any activity that is considered sexual by the people who are involved. It can include the following activities and more:
- vaginal sex
- anal sex
- any sexual touching
- oral sex
- exposing your body to another person
- taking sexual pictures of another person
- showing somebody pornographic images
- and more!