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Old February 20th, 2006, 02:33 AM  
beautifullytragic's Forum Picture
Join Date: November 23, 2005
Age: 27
Gender: Female
Default "Are You Ready For This?" and "First Time&q

I found this article and "sex readiness" checklist online and thought I'd share, since we have so many people who get on here asking about stuff to that effect. Another article, included below, also talks about first experiences with sex. Here are the articles and checklist:

Ready...Or Not? Our Infamous Sex Readiness Checklist
By Heather Corinna

One of the biggest misnomers about sexuality in our culture is that vaginal intercourse is "going all the way," and is some sort of final goal to sexuality, which is unfortunate... and untrue. This idea has contributed to a whole lot of confusion and disappointment for many who have first intercourse, and wonder where the fireworks and trumpets were, or why it wasn't all they thought it would be.

Sexuality has many, many different forms and facets, and we can explore it in a number of ways all of our lives. Penis-to-vagina intercourse is only one. But if you're considering having intercourse for the first time, there are a lot of things you and your partner need to know and evaluate, especially if you're coming into it thinking it is the culmination or finale of your sexuality. Thhis checklist is applicable for just about any form of sexual activity, especially those in which there is a risk of pregnancy. Take stock, and get real!

Reality Check
Intercourse will not necessarily do any of the following for you:

* Guarantee a longer or closer relationship
* Give you an orgasm, or mind-blowing pleasure
* Feel great the first time, or feel like hell in a handbasket, either
* Give you status with your friends
* Make you more mature, or grown-up, or a "real" man or woman

There is a lot to think about when deciding if it is right for you and your partner to have vaginal intercourse for the first time. Here are a few basic questions to ask yourself, and to ask your partner.

Why do I want to do this?
If either of you wants to do it because you feel you must or should, or because one of you is pressuring the other, or you're getting pressure from friends, or if you're having troubles in your relationship and you think sex will fix it, stop right there; wake up and smell the double-latte. You're completely off-base. Another thing to give you pause might be if you're fantasizing about sex based on movies or television: remember how in Tom and Jerry cartoons, Tom could hit a wall and walk away from it just fine, and you knew that wouldn't work in real life? Same goes with a lot of sex in movies and television; it isn't often as it appears. Also, if you simply want to unburden yourself of your virginity with no one in particular, you might want to think again. In most studies, near any woman who has handled it that way felt terrible later.

On the other hand, if you've been with your partner a while, and have a solid level of other sexual experience (including kissing, petting, masturbation, and oral or manual sex), you feel you can trust yourself and your partner with limits; if you're looking to explore your sexual relationship responsibly and sensitively, and for some greater intimacy with no notion it is guaranteed, and a firm grip on reality, read on.

Who do I want to do this for?
If it's for you, and your partner as well as you, then okay. But if it is for someone else primarily, and not for yourself, stop now. They have hands and fingers. They know how to use them to get off, and you can rest assured they've been using them long before you came along. Sex with someone else shouldn't be about self-gratification; that's what masturbation is for. If your friends are saying you should, with no understanding of your relationship, or your own needs, they're being crappy friends. Nine times out of ten, a lot of friends who pressure their friends to have sex do so because they don't feel all that good about their own choices, and want to hide behind endorsing sex to make themselves feel better. Tell them to carry their own baggage, not try and pass it off on you.

What do I expect from intercourse?
It's smart to take stock of what your expectations are, and hold them against the real situation. Talk to a friend who has had intercourse who is really honest with you (or an older sibling or family member) about what you expect, and listen to their own experiences. Do a reality check. The truth is, if you have a list as long as Santa's of expectations, it isn't very likely they'll be met. Often, the less we expect, the more we often receive. Intercourse isn't a miracle cure for anything, and it isn't a fireworks show: it can be a wonderful, natural affirmation of intimacy, and an excellent physical and emotional experience as long as you're ready for it, and take it at face value, without romanticizing it or imagining it to be something it is not. Bear in mind the following: a good 30% of people never have sex again with the partner they lose their virginity to. Only about 25% of women usually report enjoying first intercourse physically (though many more enjoy it on an emotional level), and less than 8% report orgasm from first intercourse. Those bummers most likely had to do with being ill-prepared in general, simply not knowing the basics, and overall, with unrealistic expectations. Am I really prepared to handle all aspects of intercourse?
There's a lot to handle; probably more than you think. Here are what we see as the basics for what you need materially, physically, emotionally and in your relationship for your first time to be enjoyable, safe, physically gratifying, and emotionally sound. Make a checklist for yourself that includes these items, and check them as they are true.

The Big Checklist:: Material Items:

* I have several up-to-date, good quality latex condoms, and both I and my partner know how to use them.
* I have a large bottle of latex-safe, water-soluble lubricant (KY Jelly, Astroglide, Wet, etc.).
* I have a secondary method of birth control for use with condoms.
* I have a towel, and a stock of menstrual pads.
* I have a list of local clinic or gynecologist phone numbers.
* I have a savings account I can use myself at any time (preferably, with a pad of $500), and I have a "sex budget" of about $50 per month to take care of birth control, safer sex items and annual testing and sexual health care.
* I am covered under a health insurance policy, which can cover pregnancy, neonatal care, gynecological visits, STD testing and/or birth control, or I have the funds to pay for these services.

We'll get to the first three items in the next article, but the last three items are what you will need to deal with potential disease, illness, infections or pregnancy, just for starters. There is no sex, save masturbation -- no matter how long you and your partner have known each other, or what you have convinced yourself of -- that does not carry some risks, no matter how safe you play it. If you haven't checked all the items in that list, take care of that first.

Physical Items:

* I have had regular doctor checkups, disease and infection testing, and am in good health, and my partner has had regular doctor checkups, disease and infection testing, and is in good health.
* I understand my own anatomy and my partners anatomy, as well as the basics of vaginal intercourse, STDs, STIs and human reproduction.
* I can tell when I am sexually aroused, and also know when I am not, what I need to be aroused, or when I simply cannot get aroused.
* I can relax during sexual practices without fear, anxiety or shame.
* I can handle a mild level of physical pain.

Relationship Items:

* I am able to create limits (to say no when I want to) and can trust my partner to respect them at all times.
* I can assess what I want for myself, and separate it from what my partner, friends or family want.
* I am able to trust my partner, and am trustworthy myself.
* I can tell my partner easily what I want sexually and emotionally, and when I do and do not like something.
* I can talk to my partner about sex comfortably, and be honest and forthright, and they can do the same with me.
* I care about my partner's health, emotions and general well-being, and act accordingly.

Emotional Items:

* I don't have any strong religious, cultural or family beliefs or convictions that sex for me, right now, is wrong.
* I can take full responsibility for my own emotions, expectations and actions.
* I can handle being disappointed, confused, or upset.
* I have a member of my family I can talk to about sex, and friends I can go to for emotional support.
* I can separate sex from love, and do not seek to have sex to use it to manipulate myself, my partner, or anyone else.
* I understand that having intercourse could change my relationship for good or for the worse, and feel I can handle whatever may happen.
* I feel I can emotionally handle a possible pregnancy, disease or infection, or rejection from my partner.

One of the items on the list that gets a lot of balking is having a family member you can talk to. However, bear in mind that if you are a minor, your parent is still legally responsible for you. That means that in the event of any serious health or medical problems, legal issues, or even when you visit a clinic, they have full rights to all information, and to choices made on your behalf. Take a minute to honestly think of the very big secrets you've been able to hide from your parents all your life -- there aren't very many, are there? You can rest assured, you most likely won't be able to keep your sex life a secret, and to treat your family fairly, you shouldn't. They care about you, and in caring back for them you owe them the honesty required so that they can do their best for you. It may be hard at first, but I can promise you it'll be much less hard than if you surprise them with an STD, pregnancy or other problem out of nowhere.

Some things were not included. For instance, I didn't say you needed to be able to insist on using a condom if your partner didn't want to use one, because a partner who doesn't want to take good care of both of you isn't one you should be sleeping with. It's really that simple. Toss the checklist to your partner too: talk about the items on it. You may find that simply discussing the reality of the situation makes a big difference for both of you. A lot of sex is innate and intuitive, and it is perfectly normal to feel driven by our libido and our emotions, but it isn't okay to ignore good sense and responsible behavior because of those feelings and desires. That's a lot to look at isn't it? Here's the deal: there isn't a statute of limitations on your sex life, and it doesn't begin or end with intercourse. You can initiate any level of it at any time during your life, and change what you want to do as you go along, determining at any time what is best for you, and for your partner(s). If you haven't checked almost all of the things on those lists, take a look at the ones you didn't check and try and figure out what you need to do for yourself right now. There is no reason to set yourself up for a fall, or rush into something that won't be enjoyable or rewarding, when it isn't going to go away if you wait. Be honest with yourself, and above all else, do what is right for YOU.

Intercourse 101: What's on Your Plate?
Also By Heather Corinna

So, you've got the checklist all squared away?

When you're thinking about sexual intercourse, and you've got everything you feel you need: materially, in terms of your relationship, and emotionally, you're probably still reading because you want to know HOW to make it all work your first time. The bulk of questions we get asked about first intercourse are: Will it hurt? Will I bleed? Will I hate it? I'm so scared, what do I do? Why isn't my boyfriend talking to me now that we've had sex? Why didn't I orgasm?

Let's start here. Imagine that you're standing on the edge of a diving board, a hundred feet above the pool. If you're ready to try diving, you know how, and you really want to do it, your mind and your body will cooperate and let you. You may not execute it perfectly the first time, but you'll feel good about trying, and you won't kill yourself either. On the other hand, if you're not ready, you don't know how, or you don't want to, your body and your mind just aren't going to let you do it. You feet will keep inching back, your heart will race, your head will say "No, no, no," a thousand times over, and you just won't be able to jump.

That's a good thing: it's the way our bodies and minds work together to keep us safe.

The same goes with sexual intercourse. To begin with, if you or your partner both really aren't prepared, ready, or willing, it just isn't going to work, it will hurt, you won't enjoy yourselves, and no one will have a good time. So, for starters, bear that in mind. Even if you think you're ready now, reading this, and you get there and change your mind, it is perfectly okay to backpedal and wait for another time. One of the biggest facets of sexual maturity is knowing your own limits, and being able to clearly and freely voice them and act upon them. If you can't do that, or don't feel okay doing that, you need to learn to do so before you get into bed with anyone. Sexuality is something that is with you your whole life, so if you want to wait, the nice thing is that it will too, and your sexual life goes by the pace YOU set, not the other way 'round.

Intercourse 101
That given, the first step in enjoyable intercourse is for it to be natural. Sex isn't like an algebra test: you can't just start in classroom 203 when the bell goes off, and go through the motions to get a passing grade, and expect it to be phenomenal. Ultimately, it should be a natural progression. If you've been having other kinds of sexual and intimate activity beforehand with someone you care about and trust, you'll move (or not, depending on your own limits) into intercourse without it feeling forced or alien.

Foreplay, a term used to describe sexual activities which can be engaged in before intercourse (or all on their own), and which most people need to have enjoyable intercourse the first time and thereafter, can include:

* kissing, hugging and cuddling
* touching, massage or caressing
* manual sex ("fingering")
* oral sex
* sexual talk or role play
* and other kinds of stimulation.

Relaxation and Arousal
Though it's normal to be nervous, if you're with someone you trust, enjoy other sexual play, and you feel safe in that situation, you should be at least somewhat relaxed. If you aren't, be sure and take stock of why. You may just be nervous because you're doing something new, but it's also possible either you aren't ready, you don't want to, or you aren't really with someone you trust or feel safe with. Listen to your intuition -- it's usually right.

When your body relaxes, your muscles get a little looser, your breathing gets a little deeper, and then you can stay sexually aroused. When you are aroused (excited), your body will act in kind, lubricating itself, loosening the muscles and tendons in your whole pelvic area, and becoming more sensitive to sensation and touch.

The Deed
When and if you feel ready to attempt intercourse, before you do anything else, have your partner put on a condom, or, if you're the male partner, put the condom on. You should not be trying a condom for the first time and first intercourse. Make sure you know how to use one well before. Be sure to use latex-safe lubricant on the condom after it is on, and put a generous amount of lube on and around the entire vulva. Either or both of you can massage the vaginal opening and clitoris with the lube, and be sure it's really slippery.

The vaginal opening is where the penis is inserted. There is no need to worry about penetrating the urethra by accident, because that simply isn't possible. Be sure your partner knows it is your first time, and be sure you make clear that he or she be patient, and communicate with you as you go. This isn't the time to be shy, or get silent, so if you have a problem talking about sex, you shouldn't be quite this far.

For most women, the two best positions for first intercourse are either the missionary (where the man is on top), or with the woman on top. The woman being on top may be a little easier because she can control how deeply she is being penetrated. When you begin penetration, go slow. Start by just setting the tip of the penis against the vaginal opening. You can learn a thing or two here from an eastern tantric tradition: if you simply set the penis at the vaginal opening, and either of you gently put your weight on the other and press down slowly as you both relax, women will open to penetration more naturally, and for the guys, it's a good way to soothe the nerves.

It's up to the female partner say how deep to go, and how fast to move. Don't do anything that feels horribly uncomfortable for either of you: pain is the way your body tells you not to do something. It may only feel good to penetrate you an inch, and move very slowly. On the other hand, it may feel just fine to enter more deeply for both partners, and move more rapidly. Tell each other as you go what feels good, and what doesn't, and be prepared to be really patient with each other.

Most of all, breathe. Look at the instructions given to a woman in labor. Though intercourse isn't anything close to as painful or intensive for your body (mainly the female body, most men don't feel any physical pain or discomfort during first intercourse), the best thing for both of you to do is to breathe. Take nice deep breaths, and keep them steady. Bringing oxygen into your body and releasing it keeps your muscles relaxed, your head clear, and your heart steady and calm.

Pain and Bleeding (For The Gals)
You may find that it does hurt. Your hymen may or may not be fully stretched or eroded yet until now, and even if it has been (as it is in many young women) from tampon use, or basic physical activity, it may not have been stretched as much before as it is being stretched now. Again, go slow. If it really hurts, stop; take a couple minutes again where the penis is just pressed against your opening, perhaps stimulate your clitoris a little, or hug and kiss. When and if you're ready, try again. You may find you have to do this any number of times, and since it should still be enjoyable and intimate, there is absolutely no need to apologize for it. In fact, you may find that you don't want to be fully penetrated on the first try. That's just fine, as well. Sex isn't a one-shot deal -- it's a lifelong experience. Anyone in a hurry to "get it over with," has completely missed the boat.

We all have different personal pain thresholds. For some women, first intercourse pain is a hiccup, and for others they feel a good deal of pain and discomfort. All in all, having your leg broken, or a limb or digit cut off or really intense menstrual cramps hurts a whole lot more. So does childbirth. Yet it's all in who we are, and how we process and experience pain. If it hurts a lot for you, you aren't a wuss, or weak, and if it doesn't hurt at all, that doesn't mean you weren't a virgin, or that something is wrong with you, either. First intercourse pain is, in general, fairly mild and short pain if you are aroused, relaxed, properly lubricated, and have a sensitive and patient partner.

There are a very small number of women whose hymens are simply very resistant to opening at all, and these women will feel tremendous pain at attempting intercourse. If you're one of them, you have probably found you cannot use tampons either, nor insert a finger into your vaginal opening. No matter how you try and break down a gate like this, it just isn't going to open, so you'll need to go and see a doctor or gynecologist to deal with it. Sex aside, it's not really healthy or comfortable to go through life with that sort of hymen, so you may need a surgeon or doctor to make an incision before you can do any of these things. Your doctor will talk to you about your options.

You may also bleed during first intercourse, and even during the next few times you try it. If you're well lubricated, and your partner goes slow, that should be minimal, but during the first time, it's usual enough that you'll probably want to wear a menstrual pad (NOT a tampon) for the first 24 hours or so afterwards. Bleeding doesn't mean anything has been damaged, but simply that some tissue has been stretched, abraded or torn, and, like your lips and mouth, it is tissue that is engorged with blood, so it is opened or stretched, you will bleed.

Either of you may or may not have an orgasm during first intercourse, and it is common that many women won't from intercourse by itself. Most women don't. That doesn't mean it wasn't good, that anyone failed, or that anything is wrong. Even once you're an expert at intercourse, it is entirely possible -- and usual -- that it won't be what brings you to climax by itself, but that other forms of sex, like oral sex or clitoral stimulation combined with intercourse, will. In addition, it is also highly common that during first intercourse, the male partner's erection may not last very long, and he may reach orgasm very quickly, perhaps even more quickly than he wanted to. Again, that too is okay, and it doesn't mean anything is wrong with you. It just means that something so new and intense, and often a little nervewracking, has effects on your body. This too shall pass.

You Aren't Alone
It is likely that during this experience, both partners may need downtime or care. Bear in mind that first intercourse, while not painful for men, isn't easy either, and the male partner may likely be just as nervous, scared or inexperienced as the gal is. He may, for instance, have trouble maintaining erection, and that's fine and good too -- if you still want to be sexually intimate, just move to another activity in which an erection isn't required. It's all okay.

Don't forget that men often have a pretty serious burden to bear with first intercourse, and feel pretty serious pressure to do it right, make it good, and perform. Most young men are also very scared and nervous of hurting their female partners. Try and be sure and remember that women aren't the only ones with issues and fears, and give each other the same patience and sensitivity you want from your partner.

Finishing Safely
When you're done with intercourse, take off the condom away from the vulva slowly, knot it, and throw it away. Sometimes, a condom can slip off and get "lost" in the vagina during intercourse. If that happens, reach into your vagina, and feel for the circular or ring end of the condom. Pinch it together, and pull it out carefully, to avoid spilling any semen. If that happens, you will want to be aware that you do have an STD or pregnancy risk to attend to, and deal with it accordingly.

Both parties should urinate after sex as a habit, especially women. Because the vaginal opening is very close to the urinary opening, bacteria can get into that opening and give you a urinary tract infection. In general, this can be easily avoided by making it a habit to urinate both before and after sexual intercourse.

When all is said and done, though first intercourse may hurt a little physically, it is a far greater matter emotionally, and for our relationships.

You may find you have a number of different feelings after first intercourse. You might feel very excited, or glow, or you might feel ashamed or confused. It is entirely likely you'll feel a combination of both, and everything in between. The same holds true for your partner.

Give yourself what you need after sex, and ask your partner for what you need from them, and to voice their own needs. You may want to snuggle, talk, or go have lunch or take a walk together. You may instead want some time alone. It's up to each of you.

Sometimes, having intercourse (and other types of sex, as well) can change a relationship temporarily or permanently, because both of you may have complex feelings about it, and it may take some time to process. It may be that it wasn't what you expected, or that it made you see a different side of your partner you're unfamiliar with or uncertain about. All of that is okay. Keep the channels of communication open, talk to your partner about your feelings, and be a good listener when your partner talks to you. If you do those things, even if the relationship changes in terms of what you are to one another (sexual partners, boyfriends and girlfriends, or just friends), you'll keep the integrity of what you had, and keep it good for both of you.

Who you tell about your experience is up to you. It is a good idea to tell some family member, even if they aren't your parents, simply to keep the channels open, and give them the information they need to take care of you best. You'll probably want to tell one or two of your friends, as well. Because people who don't know you well probably don't know the intricacies of your personal relationships, it's usually best not to tell the whole world, as they may make judgments about you based on only partial information that may make you feel uncomfortable. You may want to talk to your partner about who you are both going to tell, just to be sure you both get the level of privacy that you need.

Lastly . . .
When you're sexually active -- intercourse or no -- you need to get into a habit of tending to your sexual health, if you haven't already. Make an appointment at a gynecologists office (or your regular doctor, if you're male) or clinic to get regularly tested for STDs and infections, and to discuss your birth control options. Though condoms used correctly (which you NEED to be using, regardless of your history or your partners) are adequate birth control, there are also other additional backup options, and the best person to talk about them with is a doctor.

Take some time to think about what new responsibilities this aspect of your life entails, because there are a lot of them. Review the checklist. Evaluate your own feelings. For instance, once some people have intercourse with a partner, they sometimes feel they are then always obligated to do so again, and that isn't so at all. Think about how you want to work this in your relationship, and in your life. Figure out what it means to you, to your partner, and to the relationship you have, and how you want to manage it.

Sexual intercourse isn't an end to anything, nor is it the doorway to the entirety of your adult life, but it is most certainly an event that is important and pivotal for many heterosexual people, and is one of the passages of your life, of which there will be many. Above all else, celebrate it in whatever way feels best to you, and take a look at this step in your life with thought to what pace you want to take with it now.

There you have it, guys! Sorry it was so long!


"I'm the other daughter...I'm beautifully tragic."

-Elphaba "Thropp" aka The Wicked Witch of the West (from Wicked, the musical, though the book is also excellent, might I add)
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