Let’s Talk About Sex: Advice from the Big Sister You Never Had

Having grown up in a conservative and religious town where anything sexual was considered taboo, I know what it’s like to have questions about sex and reproduction. It can feel weird (and unreliable) to Google these questions, and who wants to go to a gynecologist to ask them? Let me help by answering some questions and giving advice on things I wish someone had spoken to me about. 

*Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of Her Campus Media.

Yes, you should have a gynecologist. 

  • They’re not just for people who are sexually active, pregnant, or trying to become pregnant. Anyone who has a female reproductive system should have a gyno, because reproductive health is so much more than STDs and fetuses. Gynos can help determine if you have any conditions that can make periods or sex painful, such as endometriosis, and give solutions. These conditions often go unnoticed due to lack of encouragement to go to a gyno. Even more importantly, they can help you prevent getting cervical cancer by administering the HPV vaccine and PAP Smears. 

 

  • Your body is a temple; you should know how it functions. 

    • Wouldn’t it be weird if you didn’t know how you’re able to breathe or digest food? So why don’t we find it weird that many people don’t know how babies are made? It shouldn’t be taboo.

    • There are many options of contraception available to you, and many that your insurance probably covers the cost of. Remember that none of these prevent against STDs, cervical cancer, HPV, or HIV - only pregnancy. Where the male reproductive system is involved, a condom is the best way to prevent against the transfer of diseases.

      • Birth control pills: There are many myths out there about “the pill,” so I’ll help to clear them up. Since medical knowledge has greatly expanded, the pill is no longer a huge pill that causes crazy side effects. Most are extremely small. There are many different brands with different ratios of hormones, and your gyno will recommend one that is best for you personally. A lot of people go through a few different brands before they find the right one for them. If the pill you’re on isn’t right for you, you can go through side effects such as nausea, headaches, and depression. That isn’t supposed to happen, though, and so it’s a signal that you need to switch the pill you’re on. The pill does not harm your body in any way and does not decrease your chances of getting pregnant in the future; it has no impact on future fertility. The only way the pill can be harmful to you is if you have a history of heart problems or blood clotting, which is why it’s important to have a gyno and be truthful with them; the pill might not be the right option for you. 

      • IUD: This is a device inserted into the uterus which lasts for years. From what I’ve heard, the insertion process is quite painful and so that’s something you’d want to talk to your gyno about. The IUD can last for a range of years depending on your preference and the type of IUD you get.

      • Since I’m not a gyno, there are plenty of other options that I don’t know much about, such as Nexplanon and shots. I will include informative links at the end of this article for anything I missed.

      • No matter what form of the aforementioned you choose, always make sure you’re as protected as possible; if you can use two forms of contraception then that’s even better. Of course, always remember to protect against STDs as well. 

    • The tea on STDs: He might look cute, but that doesn’t mean that his junk is clean. 

      • Never assume that someone doesn’t have any diseases. It doesn’t matter how the person looks, how long you’ve known them, etc. It’s not worth the risk; always protect yourself. If the person can’t respect that, you should walk away. 

      • Any orifice on your body can contract an STD, meaning your mouth, vagina, anus, etc. Some of these STDs are curable, and some like herpes aren’t. HIV can be fatal. Again, don’t take the risk. 

      • STDs can also be transmitted in same sex relationships, so it’s always important to have a clear conversation about STDs with any sexual partners.

      • If you think you might have an STD, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

  • Know when to walk away.

    • Let me stomp on the ideas of “sex feeling better without a condom” and “blue balls.” Sex might feel better for him without a condom, but that’s too bad because you need to protect yourself. If he can’t respect that, walk away. “Blue balls” also won’t kill him; you are always allowed to revoke consent. 

    • The scoop on consent: I don’t care what the Internet, your partners, your family, or anyone or anything has told you about consent. Consent is an enthusiastic, coherent, understanding, and sober yes from everyone involved to every sexual act to occur. It is not the lack of a no. It cannot be given from anyone under the influence of anything. There are different ages of consent in each state for minors. Finally, it can always be revoked, no matter what has happened or was expected to happen; you do not owe anyone anything. 

  • If you make a mistake, what can you do?

    • If you think you’re at risk for pregnancy, it’s important to act immediately through the Plan B pill (and those out there that are like it). It is not an abortion pill. If you are already pregnant, it won’t work. If taken before an egg has attached to the uterine wall, it prevents that from happening. Although more studies may need to be done, as of right now it is not believed that pills such as these will impact your future chances of getting pregnant. There are ways available to you for getting these pills at little or no cost. As there are things (such as weight) that affect the way these kinds of pills work, make sure you talk to your doctor. 

  • You have medical privacy rights. 

    • If you’re a minor and scared that your parents will have to know about your sexual activity, fear no more. You have the right to leave your parents out of the room and not give them information. Thus, don’t let fear keep you from taking care of yourself.

  • If you get pregnant, you have options. I repeat, you have options.

    • You can get an abortion. You can deliver and put the baby up for adoption. You can keep the baby. The decision is yours and only yours. For more information about options available to you in your area I will include informational links at the end of this article. 

  • For more info:

  • If you have been sexually assaulted or know someone who has been:

I’m not all-knowing about this; I’ve just done my best to keep myself informed about my body and my rights, and I think that you should, too. If you take anything out of this, remember that there is no shame in sex and that you don’t owe anyone anything. As such, you have the right to go to the doctor for questions, exams, and medications the same way you would if you had a cold. You also have the right to revoke consent at any time.