Jennifer Ashton, M.D., Ob-Gyn with Christine Larson WebMD Feature by “The Body Scoop for Girls”
A funny thing I’ve noticed: Although I talk to thousands of patients every year (many of those just before or just after they lose their virginity), none of them, not one teenage patient, has ever said to me, “Oh, Dr. Ashton, I love my boyfriend so much, and I really want to sleep with him because it will bring us closer.” Or even “Dr. Ashton, I had sex, and it rocked. It was so great!” Not once.
Just Doing It
Major Reasons Why Teens Said Yes to Sex
Partner wanted to (84%)
It was the right time (82%)
Was ready (80%)
Met the right person (76%)
Been with the right partner for a long time (74%)
Hoped it would make the relationship closer (69%)
Friends had already done it (62%)
Wanted to get it over with (58%)
Planning to marry the partner (53%)
Was using drugs or alcohol (18%)
Benefits of Keeping Your "Lifetime Number" in the Single Digits
More partners increase your lifetime risk of sexually transmitted infections. More partners and more sex increase your risk of pregnancy.
If you sleep with one boyfriend in high school, you’ll probably end up sleeping with the next . . . and all the other ones after that.
Someday you’ll meet the man of your dreams. He may feel better and so will you if you both have a lower lifetime number.
Most of my patients just don’t see sex as a demonstration of love, affection, or intimacy. It’s something they do because “the time seemed right” and because there are all kinds of social messages out there telling them it’s the thing to do. Friends, music, TV, movies—all suggest that high school is the natural, logical time to lose your virginity. But a lot of those messages are pure myth. If you know the facts, you’ll know how to respond to your friends when they bring them up.
Myth 1: You have to have sex to fulfill a relationship. Truth: You don’t need to have sex. There are plenty of other things you and your boyfriend can do.
I say this all the time—even when my patients’ parents are in the room. Sometimes the parents just about fall out of their chairs. But the fact is, 80 percent of my patients have had oral sex by age sixteen, and most of them have engaged in some variety of sex play. Of course, oral sex and sex play won’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections. (Let me repeat that: Anything you can get from vaginal intercourse you can get from oral sex. Anything. Warts, herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis, HIV. All of it. In your throat.) Still, you won’t get pregnant—and that’s a big plus. And you can and should use condoms even during oral sex to reduce the STI risk.
This point—that having intercourse isn’t the only way to get cozy—is a great one to use on boyfriends or friends who might be pressuring you. It shows you’re not a prude (if that’s something you’re worried about) and it also shows you know what you’re doing. Plus, it’s totally in line with how most teens feel about sex. Most of my patients also don’t see sex as the ultimate expression of love, or even a chance for a great orgasm (by the time they get to intercourse, most of my patients have already had plenty of experience with physical pleasure, through oral sex and other sex play). When it comes to vaginal intercourse, I tell my patients, “You don’t need to check that box right now. You can do it anytime.”