Sex Ed 101

Here’s where you’ll find a basic definition of sexual health, answers to common questions, and information about our other sex ed resources.

Common Questions about Sex and Sexual Health

What is “sexual health”?

The American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) defines sexual health this way:

Sexual health is the ability to embrace and enjoy our sexuality throughout our lives. It is an important part of our physical and emotional health. Being sexually healthy means:

  • Understanding that sexuality is a natural part of life and involves more than sexual behavior.
  • Recognizing and respecting the sexual rights we all share.
  • Having access to sexual health information, education, and care.
  • Making an effort to prevent unintended pregnancies and STDs and seek care and treatment when needed.
  • Being able to experience sexual pleasure, satisfaction, and intimacy when desired.
  • Being able to communicate about sexual health with others including sexual partners and healthcare providers.

How do I know if I’m ready for sex?

When it comes to being sexually active, there isn’t a right age or a right time—it’s a matter of personal choice. But here are three important things to think about before you make that choice:

  • Do I trust my partner? Will they engage in the kind of consensual, respectful sexual activity I want to have?
  • Can I communicate openly with my partner? Can I talk to them about sexually transmitted infections (STIs), birth control, and what I want out of a sexual relationship? Can they talk to me about the same?
  • Do I feel ready to deal with possible outcomes of having sex? Do I know where and how to take care of myself if the sex I’m having (even if it’s safe sex) results in pregnancy or an STI?

What is a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?

A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is an infection that is spread through sexual behavior or contact. Some STIs can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact or body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or breast milk. STIs generally infect the genital areas (penis, scrotum, vulva and vaginal opening), anus, or mouth, although they can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated. They are also known as STDs (sexually transmitted diseases).

Can I tell if my partner has an STI just by looking at them?

No. In fact, even your partner might not know if they have an STI. A large number of people never develop symptoms—or they don’t have an accurate idea of what the symptoms might be.

The best way to know if you or your partner has an STI is by getting tested. Check out our Center for Sexual Health to find out more about the testing services we provide.

Is this normal?

This is one of the questions we get asked the most at Response Center. Is my body normal? Are my sexual fantasies normal? Am I having sex in a normal way?

The short answer is yes. There are many different ways to be “normal.” There are many different ways for bodies to look. And there are many different sexual desires and preferences. As long as your sexual relationships are safe and consensual, and you are not exposing yourself or your partner to physical or emotional harm, you’re probably just fine! That being said, if you’re worried about something, the team at Response Center is always here to listen and to offer you more information. Give us a call at 847.676.0078 or email clinic@jcfs.org.

More Information

Want more information on sex and sexual health? Response Center offers the following resources:

  • The Center for Sexual Health: Response Center provides comprehensive, confidential sexual health care for individuals ages 12–24.
  • Glossary: Look up more common terms related to sex and sexual health.
  • Helpful Links: Links to other sites and organizations that provide information about birth control, sex education, STIs, and more.