That was the end of my sex education until health classes in senior elementary and high school. In those classes I learned that girls have menstrual cycles and how pregnancy occurs. I don't remember much else although I'm sure there was discussion of STDs as well.
In addition to the items noted above, here's my top ten list of what I wish someone had told me when I was a teenager.
1. Sex = Good
I have spent a very large portion of my life thinking that sex is dirty, naughty, taboo.... Even after marriage I was still concerned that people (my parents in particular) would know that I was having sex. Oh the horror!! It's taken years and a lot of re-evaluation of my beliefs for me to realize just the opposite. Sex can be wonderful. It's not in the least bit embarrassing. I'm betting that even my parents are having sex - Imagine that! (On second thought, don't imagine that.)
It used to be that girls were getting married and having sex in their teens. Nowadays we would call them child brides. But they weren't considered children then - they were considered women as soon as they began menstruating. Just imagine being a spinster at 20! Now the pendulum swings the other way and many don't feel girls should be having sex until they're at least eighteen. Ask some fathers and the answer is more like 32.
From a purely physical standpoint, I would say a girl's body is prepared for sex once her menstrual cycles become somewhat consistent (and therefore strong enough to bear children). But the physical is such a small part of whether a girl is ready. For this reason I am glad that the age of the child bride is over (with the exception of certain parts of the world, but I'm speaking from a North American perspective).
From a more emotional standpoint, it's far more complicated and I believe different for every individual. One must understand the consequences (both positive and negative) of engaging in sexual activity and also be prepared to deal with them. This includes the obvious - pregnancy and STDs - but also the things that young girls don't want to think about. What if I have sex with him and then he breaks up with me? What if he tells everyone I know that we did it? What if I don't like what he's doing? What if I don't like what he wants me to do? Let's face it, as Hedley puts it, most boys do the thinking with their little head, instead of their big one. A girl needs to be emotionally strong enough to deal with all of these consequences and take whatever precautions are appropriate.
3. Have you met you?
Masturbation is a wonderful and pleasurable way to learn about your body. It's a private time that allows you to figure out what you like and what you don't like. Best of all it's a way to have an orgasm without the danger of pregnancy or diseases. When you decide that you're ready to involve someone else you're going to want to know these things. After all, how is he going to know how to give you pleasure if you don't even know. Sex is best when both people know what they want and are confident enough to gently lead their partner in the right direction (and/or away from the wrong direction).
4. Oh...That's the spot!
The clitoris is a really important part of the female anatomy. Whenever you watch love scenes in movies or soap operas it's completely ignored. 50%-75% of all women need clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm. (I'm almost too ashamed to admit that this statistic came from Dr Phil. I'm not sure about its accuracy as a 25% variable seems rather high.) So listen to your clit and treat her well! While you're at it, go on a hunt for your G spot. The debate is still hot about this elusive spot, but the searching can be as much fun as the finding.
5. Give me one good reason
There are loads of bad reasons to have sex.
- Because your boyfriend wants to have sex
- Because you're afraid your boyfriend will break up with you if you don't have sex (If a guy is so uncaring that he pushes you to do something you're not ready for, he's not worth having around anyway.)
- Because you want to get losing your virginity over with
- Because everyone else is doing it (seriously, do I have to pull out the "if everyone jumped off a bridge" metaphor?)
- Because you want to feel grown up
6. What about the wedding bells?
For those who want to abstain until marriage, that is a choice and good luck with it. However, it's not the best choice for everyone. Sexual compatibility is a very important part of a lasting relationship. Imagine finding out after you've made that lifelong commitment that one of you is insatiable and the other has absolutely no sex drive. I can almost guarantee that your relationship won't last (or it will last with both spouses miserable and resentful).
7. Playing for the other team
If you find yourself attracted to girls instead of guys (or as well as), that's perfectly fine too. Don't try to be something you're not just to please the people around you - always good advice.
8. Toys aren't just for little kids
There is a wonderful world of sex toys to be found. They're good for when you're solo or with a partner. Start with the basics and be willing to try anything that you think you might enjoy. Don't be discouraged if you try something new and don't like it. Not all women like the same things.
9. Welcome to Fantasy Island
Fantasies are wonderful. You can imagine anything you want. My gynecologist once told me that I could fantasize about anything, even something that in real life I would find unacceptable, because as long as it's only in my head it's okay. That was a turning point in my journey to break away from the whole sex is naughty thing. I had never even given myself permission to think about sex freely. Even my mind was tied up in knots. If you're like me and need a little kick start in the fantasy department try a romance novel. You don't even need to start with Harlequin - the Twilight series has its fair share of lusty scenes. (Oh Edward!)
10. Sowing your oats
This might end up being the most controversial on my list, but I have no issue with casual sex. In this day and age there is a very good chance that you won't end up with the guy with which you lost your virginity. There has been a double standard for far too long whereby guys who sleep around are studs and girls who do the same (or more often less) are sluts. This doesn't mean that I'm suggesting that you should just have sex with every guy that walks by (unless of course you really want to), but it does mean that you don't necessarily need to wait for "the one" before you have sex (unless of course you really want to).
In the end my list is all about making your own choices. Be confident and be yourself. Be smart and be safe, but don't forget to have some fun along the way!