Alternative Sex Education: Beyond abstinence, beyond heterosexuality and expectations

Our generation got screwed over when it came to “the talk.” Our parents were uncomfortable with it, we didn’t wanna hear about it and so the conversation either never happened or was as bare-bones as possible. But now we are getting to that age where we can’t afford to be ignorant about safe sex, so this article is what you need to know about safe sex without the awkwardness of face-to-face interaction.

The first tip is the most important one: once you have reached the age of consent or the age where you are sexually active, you should be getting tested for STIs and HIV at least once a year for those with one partner and every three-six months for people with multiple or frequent partners. 

If you are sexually active and closeted or just don’t want your guardians to know, you can ask for STI testing at your yearly physical and ask your doctor to keep it confidential. Since you are the patient and your guardians are not, they cannot tell them that you were tested or the results of the tests. However, if you are out or for some reason your doctor refuses to run the tests, you can always go to a clinic like Planned Parenthood for testing along with advice and birth control. The next most important tip is to use birth control and contraceptives. There are plenty of types other than condoms and the pill, and they all have varying rates of success. 

The following descriptions have been pulled directly from the CDC’s website, linked here. The language has been modified slightly using AFAB (assigned female at birth) and AMAB (assigned male at birth) to be more inclusive to queer students.

“Levonorgestrel intrauterine system (LNG IUD)-The LNG IUD is a small T-shaped device like the Copper T IUD. It is placed inside the uterus by a doctor. It releases a small amount of progestin each day to keep you from getting pregnant. The LNG IUD stays in your uterus for up to 3 to 6 years, depending on the device. Typical use failure rate: 0.1-0.4%.” 

“Copper T intrauterine device (IUD)—This IUD is a small device that is shaped in the form of a ‘T.’ Your doctor places it inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. It can stay in your uterus for up to 10 years. Typical use failure rate: 0.8%.”

“Implant—The implant is a single, thin rod that is inserted under the skin of an afab’s upper arm. The rod contains a progestin that is released into the body over 3 years. Typical use failure rate: 0.1%.” 

“Injection or ‘shot’—Afab individuals get shots of the hormone progestin in the buttocks or arm every three months from their doctor. Typical use failure rate: 4%.”

“Combined oral contraceptives—Also called “the pill,” combined oral contraceptives contain the hormones estrogen and progestin. It is prescribed by a doctor. A pill is taken at the same time each day. If you are older than 35 years and smoke, have a history of blood clots, or breast cancer, your doctor may advise you not to take the pill. Typical use failure rate: 7%.”

“Progestin-only pill—Unlike the combined pill, the progestin-only pill (sometimes called the mini-pill) only has one hormone, progestin, instead of both estrogen and progestin. It is prescribed by a doctor. It is taken at the same time each day. It may be a good option for afab’s who can’t take estrogen. Typical use failure rate: 7%.”

“Patch—This skin patch is worn on the lower abdomen, buttocks, or upper body (but not on the breasts). This method is prescribed by a doctor. It releases hormones progestin and estrogen into the bloodstream. You put on a new patch once a week for three weeks. During the fourth week, you do not wear a patch, so you can have a menstrual period. Typical use failure rate: 7%.”

“Hormonal vaginal contraceptive ring—The ring releases the hormones progestin and estrogen. You place the ring inside your vagina. You wear the ring for three weeks, take it out for the week you have your period, and then put in a new ring. Typical use failure rate: 7%.”

“Amab dom—An amab’s condom keeps sperm from getting into an afabs’s body. Latex condoms, the most common type, help prevent pregnancy and HIV, and other STDs, as do the newer synthetic condoms. ‘Natural’ or ‘lambskin’ condoms also help prevent pregnancy, but may not provide protection against STDs, including HIV. Typical use failure rate: 13%.” “Condoms can only be used once. You can buy condoms, KY jelly, or water-based lubricants at a drug store. Do not use oil-based lubricants such as massage oils, baby oil, lotions, or petroleum jelly with latex condoms. They will weaken the condom, causing it to tear or break.”

“Afab’s condom— the afab condom helps keep sperm from getting into their body. It is packaged with a lubricant and is available at drug stores. It can be inserted up to eight hours before sexual intercourse. Typical use failure rate: 21% and also may help prevent STDs.”

Now again, none of these are 100 percent effective and should be used with the understanding that there is still a chance that you or your partner/s can get pregnant. If your partner/s cannot get pregnant for certain, you should still use protection as some forms of birth control can help protect against STIs. 

Another important thing to remember is consent. A lot of people our age don’t know the true meaning of consent, and often that causes miscommunication and or sexual assault. Consent is described as, “Consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to the proposal or desires of another. It is a term of common speech, with specific definitions as used in such fields as the law, medicine, research, and sexual relationships. Consent, as understood in specific contexts, may differ from its everyday meaning.” 

An example of this is that when in day-to-day interactions, someone saying “sure” after pressuring can be relatively harmless; however, this type of coercion is not OK when it comes to sex, so when you are dealing with sexual consent, remember F.R.I.E.S. 

Consent should be freely given, reversible, informed, enthusiastic, and specific. It should be given without coercion, able to be taken back, and they should know everything they are consenting to, so talk before you try something (No it does not kill the mood). They should be enthusiastic and when asked they should be shouting “yes!” in response and finally they should be specific in what they are consenting to. 

The most important thing is to stay safe. Never date anyone you haven’t seen at least six pictures of in separate locations and poses at different times. Always verify their age and never lie about yours. Tell someone before you meet up with anyone for a date or sexual relations even if you know them. Tell them who you are with, where you are going and what you will be doing. Always give the person you tell yours and your date’s number/s and address/s so that if you are unreachable for a concerning amount of time you can be found by your friends, family, or if need be, the police. Once you are sure you are safe, use the advice above to have a fun time. 

And the final rule of safe sex, the one everyone should remember especially those of you at the junior high should remember is this, unless you are at least seventeen or older, keep it in your pants. Don’t share nudes as those are legally child pornography and you can be arrested for having it and so can your partner. Don’t get profiles on dating apps using a fake birthday just because you think you’re mature, because you are not and that’s a good thing. Pedophiles will use that “maturity” you are so proud of to groom, trap, and abuse you, and you won’t realize it until it is way too late. Stay your age for as long as you can, and date at school all you want, but remember that, for now, you are a kid, and it’s something you should enjoy because once you realize that you fell right into some creep’s trap and let them use you, you’ll never look at yourself the same way ever again, and, trust me, that kind of self-hatred doesn’t go away. It sticks with you, eats at you, like cancer or a poison that never leaves, so stay your own age and act it, for your own sake. 

Hopefully, all of this was helpful, and I hope you take it to heart. Stay safe everyone.

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