Doing It Right: Making Smart, Safe, and Satisfying Choices About Sex
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Doing It Right: Making Smart, Safe, and Satisfying Choices About Sex

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by Bronwen Pardes
     
 

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Enjoy responsibly.

Sex. Sometimes it feels like everybody's doing it. Maybe you are. Maybe you're thinking about it. Maybe it's years away. Whatever.

You need to be ready -- in your head, and down there. You have to know the right stuff in order to do it.

Got questions? Who doesn't. "The Sex Lady" will break it down for you.

…  See more details below

Overview


Enjoy responsibly.

Sex. Sometimes it feels like everybody's doing it. Maybe you are. Maybe you're thinking about it. Maybe it's years away. Whatever.

You need to be ready -- in your head, and down there. You have to know the right stuff in order to do it.

Got questions? Who doesn't. "The Sex Lady" will break it down for you.

• Does size matter?

• How do you prevent STDs?

• What birth control options are there?

• If someone says they're a virgin, what does that mean?

• Am I ready? Am I normal?

The more you know, the easier it is to make safe -- and smart -- decisions about sex.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Ava Ehde
This informative and candid book covers the essential topic of sexuality, which is primary to every adolescent mind. The explanations, terminology, and suggestions are practical. The author, a sexual-health educator, tackles the tough questions about sexual orientation, size, abuse, orgasm, pregnancy, STDs, and masturbation among others. The author suggests that "the most important thing for you to take from reading about them is that it's okay to want to do these things, or not to want to." The frank information on human sexuality clears up myths and helps teens gain some empathy and understanding of sexual differences. It is a weighty subject and the book is text heavy. It might have been more appealing visually if it offered more diagrams, images, etc. The chapter topics range from reproduction, readiness, and protection to STDs and rape. There are excellent definitions, suggestions, and ideas offered in highlighted areas throughout the book. The language is honest and at a level to be appreciated and understood by teens. There are important questions and answers about sexuality offered at the end of many chapters. The appendixes include "Where Can I Go For More Information: A Resource Guide" as well as Web sites on "Puberty" and "Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Questioning" and "About the Author." Although designed as a current, important addition for the circulating collection of both school and public libraries, the highly readable text aimed directly at teens makes it valuable as a classroom resource, for assignments, or personal use.
From the Publisher
"Mothers and daughters can agree on Doing It Right — nonjudgmental, informative, and easy to understand, it's like a whole semester of sex education in under one hundred and fifty pages."

— Dr. Carol Livoti and Elizabeth Topp, mother-and-daughter team behind Vaginas: An Owner's Manual

"Bronwen Pardes has the courage to tell young teens everything they need to know about their sexuality and responsible sexual expression. A required (and stimulating!) read for all teens — and their parents, too."

— Eric Marcus, author of Is It a Choice? and What if Someone I Know Is Gay?

"Refreshing, honest...powerful! This book will make a life-or-death difference to many of today's teens. Browen Pardes writes to inform, not to judge, and she succeeds."

— Bishop John S. Spong, author of The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love

"This is an informative, highly intelligent look at a teen's changing body, sexuality, and actual physical intimacy.... A wonderful guide."

— Teensreadtoo.com

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—The first half of this updated edition addresses the anatomical and emotional issues surrounding sex. The remainder of the book covers gender issues, homosexuality, and safety from disease and assault. Pardes speaks in a matter-of-fact manner about all kinds of sexual experiences from masturbation to anal sex. Much of the book is based on questions posed to her by the young adults she has worked with over the years. Her goal was to give readers "…the information you need, without judgment, to make your own decisions about sexuality." Unfortunately, the writing, while informative, is a bit dry. Only the most motivated teens will read the entire book. The visual presentation is awash with gray. The anatomical explanations are accompanied by serviceable illustrations in shades of gray. Question-and-answer boxes are light gray with black text. In spite of the drab look, this book is well rounded and evenhanded and may be a parent or educator's first choice. Teens may be attracted by the title, but will most likely skip reading a good portion of the book. Craig Murray and Leissa Pitts's Sexpectations: Sex Stuff Straight Up (Allen & Unwin, 2012) is a better choice.—Cindy Wall, Southington Library & Museum, CT

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416918233
Publisher:
Simon Pulse
Publication date:
03/06/2007
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


Am I Ready?

In chapter 3 we talked about puberty and what happens to your body as you grow from a child into an adult. All those changes -- breasts growing, hair appearing in new places, changes in your genitals, getting your period, having your first wet dream -- mean that your body is ready to have sex. Being physically ready is one thing, but how do you know if you're ready emotionally? The fact that you're reading this chapter probably means you're asking yourself this question.

Becoming sexually active is a big deal. Having sex can be a great experience. But it also comes with a lot of consequences. Sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy are very real risks, so you'll want to make sure you're informed and ready to take precautions (you can learn how in chapters 5 and 6).

In addition, sex can bring on a lot of feelings you might not be prepared for. If you have sex with someone you feel really strongly about, those feelings might deepen if you have sex with them -- which can be both wonderful and a little scary. If you have sex with someone you don't feel that strongly about, you could find yourself feeling more attached to them, whether you want to or not.

I'm not trying to discourage you from having sex. But I want to be sure that if you do, you'll think about it carefully.

For starters, why do you want to have sex? There may be lots of reasons:

• You have a steady girlfriend or boyfriend, you've been getting closer to each other, and sex just feels like the natural next step.

•: You're curious -- everyone is talking about sex, and now you want to experience it for yourself.

• You're just plain horny! Sex is all you can think about, and you'd rather do it than think about it. • You feel you're old enough. Sex is something people your age do.

But maybe you're not sure if you're ready. Everyone is different, and everyone feels ready at different times. The important thing is not to have sex before you are ready, and only you can figure out when that is.

Does Age Matter?

The law tells you when you're old enough to drink, drive, and vote, and believe it or not, it has rules about when you're old enough to consent to sex, too. Someone above the age of consent who has sex with someone below the age of consent can be charged with a crime. Age of consent varies from state to state, but in most states it ranges from sixteen to eighteen. For specific information on your state, go to www.avert.org/aofconsent.htm, and for more information on consent, see chapter 14.

Lots of people consent to sex before they're allowed to according to the law. Young people don't usually get into legal trouble for having sex with another young person unless someone (like a parent) presses charges, but it's something to keep in mind when making the decision to have sex.

That being said, no one can tell you an age when you're ready to have sex. There can be lots of pressure, but the only good reason to do it is because you know you're ready. If you don't know that, then wait. Having sex can make you feel very grown-up. But here's another thing that can make you feel grown-up: making your own decision, one that's right for you, no matter what other people around you are doing.

Ready or Not, Here I Come!

You may not be ready, but maybe your partner is. It can be tough having a boyfriend or girlfriend who is ready for sex when you're not. That's a situation requiring a very honest conversation. Talk about why you don't feel ready, and ask for patience. In addition, talk about the ways you can be close without having intercourse, and be clear about what kinds of touching you are comfortable with. You will have to do some serious talking in this conversation, but make sure you do a lot of listening, too. Even talking about the ways you enjoy touching each other can feel very intimate. You can both feel close to each other, and satisfy each other, without having intercourse until you're ready.

Even if you're sure you want to wait, it can get tougher as you get older -- if lots of your friends and classmates are doing it and you're not, you can start to feel left out, like they all belong to a secret club and you're not a member. But keep this in mind: By the time they graduate from high school, roughly 60 percent of all teenagers have had sex. This means that 40 percent of your peers haven't had sex by that time. You're far from being the only one.

Sex is a very intimate act. It's a great way of expressing strong feelings for someone, and also a great way of developing even stronger feelings for them. If you want to have that experience with someone you love and trust, then hopefully that will feel more important than what your friends and classmates are doing. At the end of the day, your sex life matters only to you and the people you have sex with.

If you're thinking about having sex for the first time and are feeling confused, here are some questions to consider:

• Do you have a partner who you trust and feel close to? Does that matter to you?

• How would your parents feel about you having sex? How important are their values to you?

• Have you thought about how you and your partner will protect against sexually transmitted diseases? Do you feel that both you and your partner are responsible enough to always have sex safely?

• Have you and your partner decided to be monogamous -- that is, have you decided to have sex only with each other? Is this important to you?

• If your partner is of the opposite sex, what would you do if you/she got pregnant? Do you feel mature enough to handle the big decisions and responsibilities that would come along with that? Is abortion an option? How do you feel about having a child or giving a child up for adoption? You need to consider not just how you feel about these decisions but how your partner feels as well.

Why do you want to have sex? Sometimes it seems like everyone else is doing it and you start to feel left out. But sex is a very private thing. When you think about it, what you do or don't do sexually is really no one else's business. • Why now? Are you in a more serious relationship than you've ever been in before? Are you in love? Do you just feel ready?

• Is your partner pressuring you to have sex? No one has the right to pressure you to have sex before you're ready. If you're scared this person will break up with you if you don't say yes, that's a good sign that you should break up with them. If you feel threatened in any way, tell an adult immediately.

• How do you feel about having sex? What emotions come up when you think about it? Are you excited or scared? Trust your feelings. If the thought makes you feel more nervous than happy, that might be a sign that you should wait a while longer.

Before you make this decision, I suggest you talk to an adult you trust, if possible. There's no way to anticipate all the very strong feelings that sex can bring on. Someone older -- a relative, a counselor at your school, an older friend or neighbor -- can offer some perspective.

Questions

I'm underage and I know I'm not supposed to drink, but if I'm nervous about having sex for the first time, would having a couple of drinks help?

Although I won't preach to you about underage drinking, I can tell you that alcohol tends to make sex worse rather than better. It can affect your body's ability to become aroused -- this means you may have trouble getting or keeping an erection or reaching orgasm. Alcohol can also cloud your judgment, making it more likely you'll do things you wouldn't have done otherwise, and more likely that you'll forget what you know about safer sex (more on this in chapter 5). In the majority of date rapes, the victim, the assaulter, or both were drinking or on some other kind of drug. Finally, alcohol dulls sensation -- you're about to do something that feels really good, and this is no time to dampen your senses! If you're too nervous to have sex sober, think about whether that's a sign that you're not ready, or think about other ways you can get over your nerves.

I can't wait to have sex for the first time! My partner and I don't love each other, but we both want to have sex just for the experience. Should we do it, or should we wait?

It sounds like you feel you're ready for sex, and you have a trustworthy and willing partner. This is a pretty good scenario for having sex for the first time.

But I'm curious about why you're so eager to have sex. Is it because so many others around you are having sex? Or is it because you want to?

Of course sex -- the first time or any time -- doesn't have to be with someone you love. But one reason sex and love often go hand in hand is because having sex with someone -- especially your first someone -- can bring on a lot of very strong feelings, maybe more feelings than you'd expect.

I recommend a little soul-searching: Which is more important, having sex now, or having it with someone you love? Whatever you decide is okay as long as you feel sure it's what you both want.

No Glove, No Love: Protecting Against STDs

What's Safer Sex?

Safer sex means protecting yourself and your partner from stds (sexually transmitted diseases, which you can read more about in chapter 11). When I say something is "unsafe," that means it involves some risk of transmitting an STD (either getting one if your partner has one, or passing one along if you have one). The only surefire way to stay STD-free is to be abstinent. If you do choose to have sex, know that sex is never perfectly safe, but you can use the precautions discussed in this chapter to make it safer. It's your responsibility to talk about safer sex practices with your partner and take care of your health and theirs. You can reduce the risk of STD transmission by putting a barrier between yourself and your partner every time you have oral, anal, or vaginal sex. This chapter will give you the information you need to be as safe as possible; the rest is up to you.

Condoms

A condom is a device usually made of latex that covers the penis during sex. It can be used for any type of sex that involves a penis -- vaginal sex, anal sex, or oral sex. The major advantage of condoms is that they protect against both pregnancy and STDs. They're very easy to use, but it's a great idea to practice using one before you're in the heat of the moment -- it's always a bit harder to put one on when you're turned on or nervous. Try practicing on a cucumber, a banana, or, if you have a penis, on yourself. Girls, if you plan to have sex with boys, this means you, too -- there's no rule that says the guy has to be the only one who knows how.

Before you open the packaging of a condom, there are a couple of things you should do:

• Check that the package has not been damaged -- if there are holes in the wrapper, there could be holes in the condom too. You can do this by feeling the package to make sure you feel an air bubble, or by holding it toward a lamp to see if any light shines through.

• Check the expiration date. If it has passed, you need a new condom.

If you're good to go, your next steps should happen once there's an erection:

• Open the packaging carefully using your hands. It may look cool to open it with your teeth, but a torn condom isn't worth that one moment of coolness.

• Remove the condom from the package and check to see which side is up. If you accidentally put it on wrong side up (you'll know if you can't roll it down), it may get pre-cum on it, so chuck that condom and start again. Always have a couple of spare condoms around in case this happens.

• Squeeze the tip, so the semen will have somewhere to go, then roll the condom down until it hits the base of the penis.

• If you're uncircumcised (more on this in chapter 3), you may want to roll back the foreskin before putting the condom on. This depends mainly on the size of the foreskin -- you may have to experiment to find out what works best.

Once the condom is on, you're ready to have sex.

When you're done, it's important to remove and get rid of the condom the right way.

• Holding the base of the condom so it doesn't fall off, pull the penis out of your partner.

• Keeping your penis away from your partner, carefully remove the condom so no fluid spills out. Don't grab the condom from the tip and try to whip it off. This might cause semen to go flying across the room.

• After checking for rips or tears, tie the condom in a knot and chuck it. Throw it in a garbage pail -- condoms tend to clog up toilets and can reappear when someone other than you or your partner has to pee.

If you discover that a condom has broken or torn during sex, or if the condom stays inside the vagina or anus after sex, you and your partner may be at risk for STDs. If you're female, and the condom was your only form of birth control, you may also need to think about emergency contraception (see chapter 6).

Most condoms you find in the drug store are made of latex. But if you or your partner is allergic to latex, polyurethane condoms are a great alternative (Trojan and Durex are two well-known brands that make polyurethane condoms). Some say they feel better than latex condoms because they transmit more body heat.

There are also some condoms that are made of lambskin. Lambskin condoms protect only against pregnancy; the HIV virus and other STDs can still get through those condoms.

A few other important things you should know about condoms:

Lubricant: Lubricant keeps condoms from tearing -- many condoms come with lubricant already on them, and you can always buy extra separately. Some lubes contain spermicide, and some don't -- only use one with spermicide if pregnancy is a concern (see chapter 6 for more information on spermicide). With latex condoms, always use a water-based lubricant -- anything with oil in it (such Vaseline, baby oil, cooking oil, or hand lotion) could damage the condom. (Don't believe me? Blow a condom up like a balloon and rub baby oil on it. See how long it takes for the condom to pop.) Water-based lubricants are sold in drug stores and anywhere you can buy condoms.

Size: If the condom doesn't roll down easily, it's too small. If it doesn't fit snugly, it's too big. Condoms come in many different sizes. Make sure you're wearing the right size, so it doesn't tear or come off during sex.

Storage: Condoms should be stored in a cool place and should not be subjected to temperature changes. It's okay to put a condom in a wallet before going out, but you shouldn't permanently store it there. Try carrying them in a reinforced pocket of your backpack or bag. Some manufacturers also make condom wallets or key-chain condom holders that will provide more protection, and some condom brands even come in their own travel packaging -- round plastic or metal cylinders. To check out various condom brands and products, go to www.condomania.com. And remember, if the packaging has been damaged or the expiration date has passed, don't use it!

Oral sex: Most people don't love the idea of using a condom for a blow job, but it's the only protection there is. You can use a flavored condom or a flavored lube -- that's what they're for -- and you can use one that's a little too big and put some lube inside as well, to give him a little more sensation. (For anal and vaginal sex, always use a snug-fitting, nonflavored condom.) If you don't use a condom, you can lower your risk to some degree by making sure your partner doesn't ejaculate in your mouth, but there are no guarantees that will prevent an STD.

The Female Condom

The female condom is an alternative to the more popular male one. This is a tube of polyurethane with two flexible rings -- an inner ring and an outer ring. The inner ring goes all the way inside the vagina and rests against the cervix. To insert it, squeeze the sides of the inner ring together and put it as far inside the vagina as it will go -- it's a lot like putting in a tampon. The walls of the vagina should hold it in place. The other ring stays outside the vagina; the penis should go through this ring -- make sure it doesn't get pushed inside the vagina during sex. Afterward, reach inside and squeeze the sides of the inner ring together to take it out.

The female condom can take a little getting used to, but since you can insert it way in advance you don't have to fumble with it under pressure. Some guys find it more pleasurable than the male condom. On the other hand, some say it makes funny noises during sex -- this can be a pro or a con depending on your sense of humor.

Dental Dams

A dental dam is a square of latex (the same material most condoms are made out of) that you can put over the vulva for oral sex on a girl. They make these in flavors, just like condoms. You can buy dental dams at some sex stores, but if you don't have one handy, you can cut down the side of a condom to make one. You can also use plastic wrap as a substitute for a dental dam, but NOT as a substitute for a condom.

Make sure you don't flip the dental dam over at any point while you're using it -- in other words, your mouth should only touch one side of it the whole time. Some of them are marked so you don't get confused; if they're not, you can use a permanent magic marker to indicate which side is which.

Just like with condoms, using a dental dam will be more pleasurable with a little lubricant. It might take a little while to get the hang of using one, but I'm sure your partner won't mind if you spend a lot of time practicing.

Questions

I want to use condoms, but whenever I go to put one on, I lose my erection. What do I do?

This happens to guys of all ages, particularly when they don't have much experience with sex or condoms. Practice will help. Asking your partner to put the condom on for you might help too -- having them touch you might be a little sexier than doing it yourself. Whatever you do, resist the urge to chuck the condom over your shoulder "just this once," or to start having sex and put the condom on later. You're using a condom for good reasons; don't give up just because it's not working right away. It will get better, and in the meantime, there are other ways for you and your partner to enjoy yourselves until you can get the condom situation worked out.

My partner and I haven't been having safer sex, but I've been hearing so much about STDs, I think we should start. How do I bring this up?

I applaud you for wanting to start making sex safer for both you and your partner. This may not be an easy subject to talk about, but if you feel the need to put some latex between you, then you should go with your gut.

How this conversation will go depends on what kind of relationship you have with your partner. If you have agreed to have sex only with each other, you may be worried he'll think you're cheating or think you're accusing him of cheating. No matter what your relationship is like, he may feel a little bit defensive. Be prepared for this. Let him know that safer sex is a way to take responsibility for your health and his.

Think carefully about why you want to start having safer sex. Let your partner know what you've learned about STDs and why you've made the decision to start being safer. If it helps, show her this chapter, so she'll have a chance to learn more about STDs too.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Mothers and daughters can agree on Doing It Right — nonjudgmental, informative, and easy to understand, it's like a whole semester of sex education in under one hundred and fifty pages."

— Dr. Carol Livoti and Elizabeth Topp, mother-and-daughter team behind Vaginas: An Owner's Manual

"Bronwen Pardes has the courage to tell young teens everything they need to know about their sexuality and responsible sexual expression. A required (and stimulating!) read for all teens — and their parents, too."

— Eric Marcus, author of Is It a Choice? and What if Someone I Know Is Gay?

"Refreshing, honest...powerful! This book will make a life-or-death difference to many of today's teens. Browen Pardes writes to inform, not to judge, and she succeeds."

— Bishop John S. Spong, author of The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love

"This is an informative, highly intelligent look at a teen's changing body, sexuality, and actual physical intimacy.... A wonderful guide."

— Teensreadtoo.com

Read More

Meet the Author


Bronwen Pardes is an alumna of Vassar College and New York University’s graduate program in human sexuality. She has taught sexuality education at middle schools, high schools, and colleges in New York City. Doing it Right is her first book.

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