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Anatomy, biology, and body image. Loving your body and understanding how it works isn't always easy. We're here for all your questions, concerns, and insecurities. Ask away!

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Sex Ed

Curious about birth control? Not sure how to talk to your partner about sex? Or maybe you just want to know what the deal is. We're answering all your questions about S-E-X. 

What's an okay age to have sex?

Sex is a really personal decision, and everyone is different. In the U.S. the average age a person has sex is 17—which means about 50% of high school seniors haven’t had sex (and about half have.)

 When you’re deciding whether or not to have sex, the most important things to consider are whether you and your partner feel ready to take this step and whether you have protection. There’s no point in a relationship or specific age when you’re supposed to have sex—it’s all about when you and your partner feel comfortable and safe. Sex is a big step in a relationship, and it’s totally okay if you’re not ready yet.

If you and your partner decide you’re ready for sex, it’s important to use protection. Check out our Birth Control Explorer to find out what options are available, or have a conversation with your doctor.

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What is the purpose of an IUD?

An IUD is a t-shaped piece of plastic that goes into a woman’s uterus and protects her from getting pregnant for three to 12 years, depending on what kind she gets. An IUD is a “set it and forget it” form of birth control, meaning that you don’t have to remember to take a pill everyday or go for a shot every month. It’s also super effective—more than 99%! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, long acting birth control like the IUD are a great option for teens. If you’re interesting in long acting birth control, your best bet is to have a conversation with your health care provider about which brand is best for you, since everybody is different. If you need help finding a doctor, check out our Clinic Locator. To explore the other birth control options that are available to you, take a look at our Birth Control Explorer.

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If you have sex with a condom can you still get pregnant?

Anytime you have sex there is a risk of pregnancy, even if you’re using a condom. Condoms are 82% effective with typical use and protect from STIs, so they’re a pretty good form of birth control. But it’s smart to double up with a another compatible form of birth control to make sure that you and your partner have extra protection against an unplanned pregnancy. To see all of the birth control options available, check out our Birth Control Explorer or have a conversation with your doctor.

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If I'm on the pill and I take it as directed every day, same time, can I have unprotected sex on the placebo pill days? Can I have sex any time of the cycle?

If you’re taking the pill consistently, you will still be protected on placebo pill days, and are able to have sex at any time of your cycle. But consider doubling up on protection—if you also use barrier form of birth control, like male or female condoms, you’ll be extra protected from both unplanned pregnancy and STIs.  

If you’re looking for a new method, the implant and the IUD are both long-lasting and really effective! To see all of the options available to you, check out our Birth Control Explorer or have a conversation with your doctor.

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Are birth control implants more effective than the pill?

Both the pill and the implant are good methods of birth control, but the implant is more effective (up to 99% as compared to the pill’s 91%) and you don’t have to remember to take it every day. Plus, the implant has the added benefit of being long-lasting—it last up to three years, but you can have it removed at any time—and totally private. If you’re interested in a long-acting form of birth control that’s easy to hide, the implant might be a good option for you. To see all of the methods available to you, check out our Birth Control Explorer or have a chat with your health care provider.

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What's the best form of birth control?

Every body is different, so everyone has a different “best” form of birth control. If you’re forgetful and can’t remember to take a pill every day, a longer acting form of birth control—like the IUD or implant—might be best for you. Talk to your health care provider to see what option is the best fit for your body and your lifestyle. To browse all of the options available to you, check out our Birth Control Explorer.

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How long does it take the pill to start working?

The answer to this question depends of two things: what type of pill you are using and where you are in your menstrual cycle when you start taking it.  If you are using a combination pill and you start taking the pill within five days of starting your period, you are protected right away.  If you start at any other time during you cycle, you should use a back-up method—like condoms—for seven days.  Progestin-only pills, on the other hand, take 48 hours to become effective regardless of when you start taking them.  This means you should definitely use a back-up method for the first 48 hours.  Not sure what kind of pill you are using?  Give your health care provider a call.  And remember that birth control pills don’t protect against STIs, so consider using a condom for extra protection.

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Does birth control make you gain weight?

Birth control can have different side effects because everyone’s body is different. It’s a common misconception that everyone gains weight when they go on the pill, but studies have shown over and over again that the pill doesn’t make you fat. Many young women are starting birth control for the first time while their body is going through many other changes, so it can be easy to blame those change on the pill. The truth is that the pill can be used without an expected weight gain.  If you’re worried about the side effects of birth control, check out our Birth Control Explorer or ask your health care provider for some more information.

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Is it shallow to reject someone who asks you out just because you're not initially physically attracted to them?

Great question! We are attracted to people for a lot of different reasons, and that is different for everyone. Being attracted to your partner and having physical intimacy is an important part of a romantic relationship. Simply put, it is not shallow, but if you are interested in getting to know the person more, do so - your feelings might even change. 

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How do I have oral sex with my girlfriend?

That's a great question! Different people have different preferences when it comes to giving and receiving oral sex. Communication is really important, from making sure you have each other’s consent to have oral sex, to talking about what feels good and what doesn’t. So start a conversation by asking your partner is they have preferences and telling them your preferences. If you both know what you like, fantastic! If not, talk about how you give yourselves pleasure and then try and replicate that with your mouth. Check in with each other either as you go or afterwards for feedback. It might feel awkward, but the more you talk the more you're going to learn.

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Can a woman have fraternal twins from two different fathers? (one from each guy)

Nope! In order for pregnancy to happen, sperm needs to meet up with an egg. Only one sperm will win that race, so even if a woman has unprotected sex with multiple men she can only get pregnant from one of them. If you want to learn more, I'd suggest watching this video

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How many teens in the US get pregnant each year?

Hey there! That question has a few different answers. In 2016, nearly 210,000 babies were born to women aged 15-19. That's about 5% of all births in the United States. But the number of teen pregnancies vary a lot based on age, racial and ethnic group, and where you live in the country. If you want to learn more there are a lot of data to look at online

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How soon after sex can I take a pregnancy test?

Most health care professionals say that you should wait until the first day of your missed period before taking an at-home pregnancy test. Usually, that's about two weeks after you had sex. 

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I had sex for a little bit and when I pulled out there was white stuff on top of my penis but not near the head. What does that mean?

I can understand why you'd be alarmed. But, it could be one of a few things, such as lube. If you're concerned that this could be something health-related, contact your health provider. 

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What does a vagina looks like?

Every vagina looks a little different, but there are several parts that all vaginas have:

Image result for vagina anatomy

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What is a penis?

The penis is part of the male reproductive system. Though they'll look different on different guys (for example, some guys have been circumsized and no longer have a foreskin), most share the same parts:

Image result for male reproductive anatomy

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How do you get certain genetic disorders like Down Syndrome?

Down Syndrome and other genetic disorders happen during pregnancy when the cells that eventually make a baby divide incorrectly. You can learn more about genetic disorders here, if you're interested. 

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Is masturbation healthy?

It sure it! Exploring your own body is a totally natural and normal thing to do. 

Orgasms feel like a good build up of pleasure that can peaks and is released so to say, some orgasms are short and sweet, while others can be longer, or you could even have multiple! The feeling is different for everyone, so just do what feels good and keep doing it! Masturbation can be a great tool to explore your body, experience pleasure, and get to know your body and your orgasms better. This will also help you be able to better communicate what feels good to you with your partner.

Don’t forget trying toys alone or with a partner is a great way to enhance pleasure. Again, practice solo if you are uncomfortable doing so with a partner. 

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How can a baby die in your stomach?

Thanks for your question. While pregnancy can be a happy time for some, other times things can go wrong. Since we cannot offer specific medical advice on the internet, we recommend that you talk to your health care provider. If you need help finding a health care provider or someone to talk to, you can check out our clinic finder.

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If you're pregnant and have herpes can you pass it to the baby?

There are a lot of variables (such as how long the mother has had herpes) that will effect whether or not it's possible to pass herpes on to an unborn child. To find out the specific chances it's best to consult with a doctor. Need help finding a health center? We’ve got you covered—just enter your ZIP code in our Clinic Locator.

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How do you get AIDS?

AIDS is caused by HIV, an STI, or sexually transmitted infection. HIV is transferred from person to person through sexual contact, including anal, vaginal, or oral sex. To learn more about STDs and how to prevent them, visit the Know The Facts First website.

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I have a Skyla IUD and haven't had sex in a month and had some cramps during intercourse. What does this mean?

Thanks for your question, but since we cannot offer specific medical advice on the internet, we recommend that you talk to your health care provider. If you need help finding a health care provider or someone to talk to, you can check out our clinic finder

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Should I spit or swallow? My boyfriend tells me to swallow because it's good for me, but I don't know. The nutritional facts of drinking cum is it contains a lot of vitamins and H2O. So should I?

What makes up semen is really subjective and will change depending on how old the guy is and what he eats. What you want to do in this situation matters more than what your boyfriend wants or the "nutrional facts" of semen. If you don't like swallowing, he needs to respect your preference. 

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My boyfriend and I had unprotected sex a lot of times and all those times I thought I was pregnant, but it never happen. How soon can you find out if you aren't able to have children?

With all the infertility hype in the media, you’d think getting pregnant is hard to do. But for women in their twenties, it’s usually easy. Like, really easy. It comes down to this: If you don’t take action not to get pregnant, there’s a very good chance that sooner or later you will. Less than 1 in 100 young and healthy people are truly infertile. Having sex without birth control and not getting pregnant means you got lucky. You may get lucky multiple times, but this does not mean you are infertile. It means you are pushing your luck: 95% of young couples who have sex once a week are pregnant within a year. Most of us have heard that “it only takes one time.” While that’s true, there are a lot of factors involved, and most couples who are actively trying to get pregnant get there within 6 months.

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What position is the best?

Different people have different preferences when it comes to having sex. No one position is inherently better or worse than another. What matter is that you and the person you're having sex with both enjoy what you're doing. If you both know what you like, fantastic! If not, talk about what you think you'd like to try and if the other person is on board, go for it! Check in with each other either as you go or afterwards for feedback. It might feel awkward, but the more you talk the more you're going to learn.

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If I can't get condoms, and I want to pleasure myself with a house hold object that isn't a dildo, could I use a substitute for the condom such as plastic wrap or anything? Since, I wouldn't have the risk of getting pregnant.

Props to you for knowing that you need to cover a non-dildo masturbatory tool. One of the easiest methods of birth control to obtain privately is condoms, because there are no age restrictions and they’re really easy to get. You can find them for as little as a $1 at most grocery stores and pharmacies, and using our clinic locator ( just type in your zip code for all the info you’ll need to find a health center nearby) you can often get free condoms. 

If you really can't get condoms, then clean the object(s) you want to use before and after to kill bacteria on the surface. How you clean it depends on what item you're using, for materials like silicone, some plastics, metal, ceramic, and wood you can dip into a 10% bleach (90% water) solution and then rinse it well. Some glass, metal, and silicone products can be put in boiling water for 3-5 minutes or wiped down with rubbing alcohol (and then rinsed well!). 

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Does losing your virginity hurt?

It's different for everyone and there are a lot of variables that can effect how you experience your first time; it may hurt, it may feel great, or it may be a mixture of both.

Some people feel pain or bleed the first time a finger (or penis) enters their vagina, but not everyone experiences this. Testing our how you feel when you touch yourself may be a good way to gauge how you'll feel when another person does so. Using lube may also make penetration more comfortable for you.

If you're considering engaging in sexual behavior don't forget to protect yourself against pregnancy and STIs. There’s a ton of birth control methods out there, so check out our Birth Control Explorer to learn more. It’s a good idea to double up with a hormonal birth control method plus condoms, so you’re protected against STIs too. Need help finding a health center? We’ve got you covered—just enter your ZIP code in our Clinic Locator.

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If it's your first time and you start to bleed, should or can you keep going?

Bleeding the first time you have penetrative sex is pretty common so don't freak out too much. If you're not in pain and won't to keep going that's fine, but if you are in some pain it's also totally ok to tell the person you're with to stop. If they care about you they'll stop and totally understand. If it happens again or if the pain is really bad it might be a good idea to see a health care provider. They can also hook you up with the birth control that works for you, which'll protect you against unplanned pregnancy. 

Need help finding a health center? We’ve got you covered—just enter your ZIP code in our Clinic Locator.

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Can you always feel a guy's penis going inside you or once it is inside you?

You'll almost certainly feel something when you have penetrative sex. The experience differs for everyone. Some describe it as being filled up, while others say it's like a warm pressure. It should feel good, and it'll be easier if you're aroused and lubricated. If you're about to have sex for the first time make sure to use birth control! There’s a ton of birth control methods out there, so check out our Birth Control Explorer to learn more. It’s a good idea to double up with a hormonal birth control method plus condoms, so you’re protected against STIs too.

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How does guy ejaculate sperm?

When a guy is sexually excited blood flows into his penis and makes it hard. That's an erection. Sperm comes from tubes that connected to the testicals. Those tubes feed into the urethra, which runs the length of the penis. The sperm is squeezed from the tubes to the urethra, which senses the sperm and uses nerves to signal the muscles at the base of the penis that it's time climax. The muscles then contract over and over and ejaculation happens. 

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How long should a man last in bed?

Sex is complicated and like a lot of things in life it requires some practice to get good at it. There's a lot of different data out there on what's "normal" in bed and no one source is authoritative. One study found that most straight couples, "have sex for an average of 19 minutes. Typically that amounts to about 10 minutes of foreplay and 9 of penetrative intercourse." 

What's most important isn't a number though. It's the pleasure that you and your partner are able to find with one another. While it might seem awkward at first, checking in with your partner as you or after the fact will help you both learn what the other likes best and how to make sex as pleasurable as possible for everyone involved.

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Can my penis sweat?

Yes, great question! Penises can sweat! That's another reason why hygiene is so important, washing your penis and balls is essential to keeping your genitals clean and happy! 

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I have no interest in having sex. Not in the typical asexual way; I still get aroused and enjoy doing things on my own, but I just simply don't want to do anything sexually intimate with another person. Sure, I enjoy doing things like cuddling or kissing, but when it comes to actually doing it's I'm just not interested. Is this actually a thing or am I just scared of having sex for the first time? Thanks.

Sexuality is fluid and asexuality is too. There is no one asexual experience to judge your desires against. Some asexual people don't want to touch anyone or be touched by anyone while others may enjoy having sex with a committed partner because they know it makes their partner feel good. It may be that you swing one way or another on this spectrum right now and that you'll swing the other way in time or after you meet someone you really like. If you don't, that's totally cool too. To learn more about asexuality and maybe to better understand how you're feeling, check out the Asexual Visibility and Education Network

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I am 16 and have been fingered a number of times, but I never bled. I have been fingered with up to 3 fingers and still didn't bleed. Now, 11 days after my period ended, he put just the tip (roughly 2 inches) inside me and I could feel my vagina filled unlike fingering. When I got home after an hour, I had a small amount of cum in my vagina and it was reddish brown in color. It also hurt, but only for 15-20 minutes, but minor, bearable pain. Did my hymen break?

It's possible, yes. But since we can't give out specific medical advice on the internet, we recommend that you talk to your health care provider. If you need help finding a health care provider or someone to talk to, you can check out our clinic finder

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I am 15 and I have fetishes is that normal?

Yes! A fetish is basically just getting aroused by something that most people would not find arousing. It's totally normal to have a fetish, a new survey recently estimated that about one in four Americans have a fetish. 

There are four major theories as to how fetishes develop:

1. The brain-overlap theory. Different parts of your brain control different urges and functions. We know that these parts often talk to one another, especially when they're located close by. So if the part of your brain that controls your feet talks to the part that controls your genitals, it may explain a foot fetish. 

2. The Pavlovian theory. Have you heard of Pavlov? He did a famous experiment where he rang bells and then fed dogs. The dogs drooled because they love food (who doesn't!?). Eventually even when he didn't feed them they drooled whenever they heard bells. Studies done on people have showed that this may be repeatable in people. So if you see the same thing, like a pair of boots, while you're aroused, you may eventually become aroused by the boots themselves. 

3. The gross-out theory. Being aroused lowers your bar for what you find gross so you might see something like spit while aroused and not react with your usual "EW." That may eventually lead to you incorporating that gross thing into your sex life. 

4. The pain theory. We've all heard the saying, "Pain is pleasure." And on some level it's true because your brain releases many of the same chemicals when you feel pain as when you feel pleasure. For some people that helps them connect the two feelings and enjoy both during sex. 

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I’m 17 and have been sexually active for almost a year now. Today I had a horrific event. When he went to put himself inside of me it was very painful. Like super painful I screamed. This has never ever happened before. And I bled for almost an hour afterwards! Help?!?

We're so sorry that happened to you, but since we cannot offer specific medical advice on the internet, we recommend that you talk to your health care provider. If you need help finding a health care provider or someone to talk to, you can check out our clinic finder

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How can doctors check whether you have been sexually active?

If you're a guy, there's no way for a doctor to tell if you're sexually active. If you're a girl, a doctor usually can't tell either (and most doctors won't give teen girls a pelvic exam unless there's a sign of a problem) unless you've had penetrative sex very recently. But you should still talk to your doctor about sexual history, as being sexually active puts you at a higher risk of unplanned pregnancy or getting an STI. If you're a girl, your health care provider can help you be better prepared for next time by helping you find a birth control method that works for you.

There’s a ton of birth control methods out there, so check out our Birth Control Explorer to learn more. (Hint: It’s a good idea to double up with a hormonal birth control method plus condoms, so you’re protected against STIs too.) Need help finding a health center? We’ve got you covered—just enter your ZIP code in our Clinic Locator.

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Are their any risks with giving someone head if they are a virgin?

Anytime you engage in oral sex there are risks associated. That's why it's so important to use a barrier method, like a condom, to protect against STIs. Better safe than sorry, right? To learn more on how to protect yourself and your partner, visit the Know The Facts First website.

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I am a trans teen. Can I have regular sex with a guy?

Good news, there is no such thing as "regular sex." What people like in bed differs for everyone and there is something out there for everyone. You and your partner(s) may have to have a few more conversations before engaging in sex for the first time to make sure that everyone is comfortable with what you're going to do, but that's about it. Refinery29 has published a great article with some tips by and for trans people you may want to check out. 

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The second time you have sex does it hurt?

Sex should never hurt, and if you find that what you're doing with someone else (or by yourself) is causing you pain go and see a health care provider. Better safe than sorry, right? Need help finding a clinic? Use our clinic locator; just type in your zip code for all the info you’ll need to find a health center nearby.

But as you start to have sex and learn what you and your partner(s) enjoy you may have mishaps that cause some discomfort. That's why it's important to have open communication with your partner; you can talk to them as you go along, ask them to pause or stop what you're doing, and discuss what you may want to do in the future. 

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What happens if you push in to hard?

Using too much force when having penetrative sex (vaginal or anal) can hurt your partner. For example, pushing too hard when having sex with someone with a vagina can damage their cervix. This is why it's so important to check in with your partner while engaging with sex. Listen to what they're saying, but also watch their body language to make sure they're enjoying themselves. 

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Teenagers sitting on a tree limb

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