I am not the type of person most people would think of if they think about a professional sex educator … because I’m not one. My bachelor’s degree is in paralegal studies. I also worked to pursue a master's degree in forensic psychology. I’ve taught law classes to adults, but I’ve never taught a sex education course in a school or other environment that caters to children. So, why should you read this? Well, because I am a mom. I have three sons. My oldest son will turn 18 this year. My middle son will turn 16 this year. My youngest son will turn seven this year.
Frankly, I don’t want to think about my sons having sex any more than they want to think about the fact that their mother is sexually active. However, sex is a fact of life. It’s something that should be discussed in an open and factual manner even if the conversation is uncomfortable. Here are seven of the most common questions young people tend to look up online. Instead of asking Google, they might just ask you. Here's how to answer.
Can you get pregnant from drinking sperm?
No. To get pregnant, sperm must come into contact with the egg that is released by an ovulating female. The egg comes from the female reproductive system; more specifically, the egg is held in the ovary and travels down the Fallopian tube. If a female has sex and the egg and sperm meet, there is a chance that the egg will be fertilized. That can only be done through vaginal sex (or possibly if sperm gets too close to the outside of the vagina). The female reproductive system is separate from the digestive system. The digestive system, not the female reproductive system, would be involved if someone decided to drink sperm. That said, swallowing sperm does carry the risk of transmitting sexual infections. (Read Give a Dam: Your Guide to Protected Oral Sex.)
What is female oral sex and how is it performed?
Female oral sex is when a partner uses their mouth on a female partner's genitals. The genitals include both sets of labia, the clitoris and the vagina. This is called cunnilingus. Of course, there are a myriad of slang terms, too. The basic "how" involves licking, kissing and sucking.
What is an orgasm?
That depends. For those with male anatomy, the penis and testes experience muscle spasms that most often causes them to also ejaculate. There are some men who can orgasm without ejaculation. For women, an orgasm is when the muscles in the vagina and pelvic region experience muscle spasms. Things get very tight and then relax. Some people do produce additional fluid when they orgasm as well. Most people find orgasms to be pleasurable and enjoy having them.
What are the different types of sex?
Sex, and its definition, has come a long way in the last two decades. This answer shouldn’t be considered all-inclusive. There are many forms of sex. There is what is generally known as penis-in-vagina sex. This is when the penis is inserted into the vagina. There is also anal sex, where the penis is inserted into a partner's anus; it can be part of both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. Oral sex is another common form of sex. It is where one or both partners use their mouths on the other partner's genitals.
Sex can also be defined much more broadly, though. Mutual masturbation isn’t what we generally think about when we think of sex, but it is still a sexual experience. There is heavy petting and foreplay. There is also what is known as outercourse, or dry humping. Essentially, the actions of sex are mimicked while those involved keep their clothes on.
What is a female condom?
A female condom is a form of birth control. It still covers the penis and protects the vagina. A traditional condom is put on to an erect penis before intercourse. A female condom is a little bit different; it is a pouch that is inserted inside into vagina, creating a barrier between the woman's body and her partner's penis. Like male condoms, female condoms create a barrier which impedes the sperm’s journey to the egg. They also provide protection against sexually transmitted infections. Compared to male condoms, however, they are a bit trickier to use. (Learn more in 8 Things to Know About Female Condoms.)
How does birth control work?
Well, it depends on the type of birth control. I’m not a doctor or a nurse. So, if you have a specific birth control in mind, we may need to consult a health professional. Condoms are used to cover the penis. The goal is to minimize the risk of sperm meeting an egg and causing pregnancy. Condoms also help to protect you against sexually transmitted infections and diseases. Condoms can be very effective if they are used correctly and are used every time you have sex.
Many birth control pills are hormone based. They alter the hormones in a woman's body so that she either stops ovulating (releasing an egg) or that the lining of her uterus becomes unable to accept an egg. By the way, that’s not a form of abortion. Birth control pills are not 100% effective, although they are more effective than condoms. They do not, however, provide protection against sexually transmitted infections.
IUDs and birth control shots are generally more effective than condoms or birth control pills, but they also have their own set of risks. You'd need to discuss them with a doctor to determine whether they're appropriate for you.
What are STIs?
At the risk of sounding old, back in my day they were referred to as STDs. STI stands for sexually transmitted infections. STD stands for sexually transmitted disease. These terms are used interchangeably now, although most people would say that STI is more accurate. An STI, in short, is an infection that can be transmitted by sexual contact. Many STIs can be treated and cured. However, there are some that cannot be cured although they can be controlled. There are a lot of different STIs. That’s why it is important that if you choose to have sex, you also make the choice to protect yourself and your health. (Learn more in Be a Safer Sex Superhero in 6 Steps.)
Your kids will probably come up with all kinds of questions beyond these. The point is that you are willing to answer them openly and honestly. It's also fine to say that you don't know the answer to the question - just be willing to go and find out.