Beyond Condoms: Things to know before engaging in sex (that your school doesn’t tell you)

By: Eliza Wagman


Sexual health education in public schools is quite diverse.  Some schools employ abstinence-only programs, avoiding sexual health altogether, some teach about sex only in a reproductive sense, and some attempt to teach about safe sex in a neutral way, avoiding any sex-shaming biases.  However, even those in the third category are far from providing a comprehensive overview of safe and healthy sexual practice.  There is so much more to it than using a condom.


Here are some things to know before you consider engaging in sexual activity!


  1. Know your other options for safety. There are two risks of sex: pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Condoms are designed to prevent both, but as they are far from failsafe, it is important to consider using birth control as well.  There are also vaginal condoms, as an alternative to traditional ones.


  1. Make sure you are emotionally prepared. There are lots of outside pressures to engage or not engage in sex, but you should only do so when you are ready and eager. An important aspect of this is trusting your partner(s) – sex is an intimate act, and will be less intimidating if you trust who you do it with!


  1. Understand consent. Remember that you can say “no” or “stop” at any point during a sexual encounter, and that if your partner does, it is your responsibility to heed their wishes. Even if they don’t verbalize “no”, be conscious of their expressions and movements, and stop if you sense any discomfort (and require the same respect from them!)


To learn more about sexual health education, explore

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