Facts about sex
Sex is confusing. With so many myths surrounding it, it’s not easy to know what’s true or false.
A lot of these myths are based around sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and getting pregnant.
It’s important to do some research if you’re thinking about having sex for the first time. Have a look at these questions and answers about sex.
General sex FAQs
- Should I be obsessed with wanting sex?
No. We can all feel nervous about having sex, whether it’s for the first time or not. Sex isn’t something you should feel you have to have.
Lots of us are happy to wait for the right time and the right person. Never feel bad about wanting to wait, even if all your friends say they are having sex.
- I’m worried about premature ejaculation.
Don’t stress about performance problems. Many guys worry about premature ejaculation before having sex. It can be a common problem, but it’s important to relax and not worry about problems ahead of time.
If you experience premature ejaculation issues, see this article www.irishhealth.com/article.html?id=129 for suggestions on how to deal with it.
- Is it possible that his penis won’t fit inside me?
It’s not about the penis being too big. It’s about the vagina learning to expand and contract. The vagina is a muscle so when it’s tense, it tightens and needs to be relaxed.
The vagina can fit comfortably around the penis whatever its size. Just take your time, try to relax and use extra lubricant if you think it’ll help.
- Will sex hurt?
Sometimes sex is painful. It could mean you don’t have enough lubrication or you need to try a different position. It could also mean your partner is going too fast or using too much pressure or that you’re nervous.
It could be a combination of all of these. If it’s hurting, stop and talk to each other. Try some more lubrication or a different position or ask your partner to go slower.
If it’s hurting too much, then stop because it shouldn’t be too painful. Talk to your partner about these issues and work out how to make sex more comfortable. See our Sex. Am I ready? page for more.
- When I use the toilet after sex, it stings – is there something wrong?
It’s not uncommon for both guys and girls to feel a stinging or burning sensation when they use the toilet after sex. The thrusting motion during sex can make the vaginal area and the penis very sensitive, so it hurts to urinate.
In some cases, a burning sensation when you go to the toilet can indicate a bladder infection, thrush or possibly an STI so you should check with your doctor.
- If I had unprotected sex but got my period since, does that mean I can’t be pregnant?
Generally, getting your period means that you are not pregnant. However, there have been cases where women continue to have periods during entire pregnancies. If you think there is a chance you are pregnant you should talk to your doctor or take a pregnancy test. You can buy pregnancy tests in pharmacies and most supermarkets for around €15. See our Pregnancy section for more.
- If you have sex during your period does that mean you can’t get pregnant?
This is not true. Sperm can survive in the fallopian tubes for up to five to six days after sex, so it is still possible to get pregnant if you have sex during your period. Don’t chance it.
- I heard condoms don’t always work as contraception – is this true?
Not having sex at all is the only guaranteed way not to get pregnant, but using condoms significantly reduces the chances (98% effective if used properly). Using condoms is much, much better than using nothing.
- Can you avoid getting pregnant by washing your vagina?
No. Sperm would already have entered the uterus before you’ve had a chance to wash (they’re very fast swimmers), so emergency contraception may then be an option to consider. Emergency contraception works to prevent pregnancy up to 72 hours after unprotected sex and is more effective the earlier it’s taken. See more on emergency contraception
- Is it true you can only get pregnant if you have full sexual intercourse?
No. It’s possible to get pregnant if a guy ejaculates on or near the opening to the vagina because the sperm can enter the vagina, swim up the fallopian tubes and fertilise an egg.
- If I’m on the pill and the guy ejaculates inside me, will I get pregnant?
Probably not. The contraceptive pill, if taken correctly, will prevent pregnancy in most cases. It’s more than 99% effective when used perfectly. Many crisis pregnancies are as a result of taking the pill incorrectly, so it’s important to follow the instructions carefully. Also, if you’ve been vomiting, taking certain medication like antibiotics, or have missed taking your pill for a day there’s a chance it won’t stop you from getting pregnant.
- If I withdraw before ejaculating, does that mean she won’t get pregnant?
No. If you withdraw or even if you don’t ejaculate at all, there’s still a chance that semen might dribble from the end of the penis into the vagina during sex and cause pregnancy. It’s also possible that sperm on the outside of the vagina can work its way inside.
- Can I get pregnant from swallowing sperm?
No. Sperm are powerful swimmers but if swallowed, only go as far as the stomach. Even if some do survive, there’s no way sperm can travel to the fallopian tubes or uterus from the stomach.
- Do I have to wait till I miss a period to know if I’m pregnant?
No. Different pregnancy test kits have different levels of sensitivity, but most will detect pregnancy as early as ten to 14 days after having sex.
- What happens if I find out I am pregnant and it’s unplanned?
As tough and overwhelming as it might be, try not to panic. There are lots of supports available to make sure you are ok and get through this. To talk to someone who can help you through this, and to find out what options you have visit www.crisispregnancy.ie.
Sexually transmitted infections FAQs
- How can you tell if someone has an STI?
You often can’t tell. A lot of STIs are asymptomatic (which means there are no symptoms), so you might not even know you have one. The only way to be 100% sure is to have an STI test and always have safe sex by using a condom. Never assume anything.
- “It won’t ever happen to me.”
You’re not invincible. Anyone can have an STI and if you have sex with them, there’s a chance you can get one too. It’s that simple. If a partner doesn’t tell you they have an STI, they might not be hiding it; they just might not know they have one. Using condoms and informing yourself about the dangers of STIs is your best method of protection. Be responsible about your sexual health to avoid contracting STIs, but also to avoid passing them on.
- Will a condom protect me from STIs?
A condom will protect you from some STIs, but not all. There are some STIs passed by skin to skin contact, such as genital warts (HPV) and genital herpes. A condom does not provide 100% protection against these.
- If I’m on the pill, does that mean I won’t get an STI?
No. The pill only protects you from pregnancy, not STIs.