Dear Red: I'm Terrified of Sex

Dear Red,

I am twenty years old and terrified of the prospect of having sex. Yes, the thought appeals to me...but there are just too many uncertainties to consider. I know girls who've been having sex for years (one actually stole a guy from me, but that's another story) and none of them have had any unwanted circumstances. But I know they exist and I don't think I could bear to risk it.

Sincerely,

Worried

Dear Worried,

Well! This one's easy! Ready?

You don't have to have sex until you're ready to have sex. Period.

It doesn't matter what age you are, or how long you've been in a relationship, or whether everyone else is doing it. If you're not ready, then it's not time, plain and simple.

Here's the thing, though...sex shouldn't be scary, either. It should be something awesome that you can do with your Significant Other when you're ready.

So if you're terrified of unwanted consequences, I'd say it's time to educated yourself. See your doctor or gyno to talk about birth control options (PS--research birth control options very carefully. Get a blood test beforehand, to make sure that you're not genetically more prone to blood clots or other conditions that can be exacerbated by the side effects of hormones).

And talk openly with your SO about options, protection, safety, etc.

Actually, if there's one thing I wish I had learned much earlier on about sex, is that communication about all aspects of it, even before you do it with someone, is just as important as the act itself.

If you haven't already, sit down with your SO (and not when you're making out and things are hot and heavy. Choose a neutral, non-physical time) and tell him your concerns and how you're feeling. Be honest. Chances are, he'll have some concerns as well, and hey, he might even say just the right thing to put your fears at ease.

The other thing I'd recommend is getting a book called, "Because it Feels Good" by Debby Herbenick. This is one of the most fantastic books I've ever read on sex and pleasure for women. It's not all gross and Cosmo-ish, either. It's just practical and really bridges the gap nicely between scientific information all women should know (hello, "tenting" anyone? Anyone?), and good exercises and reassurances to say, "Sex is really, really wonderful. Here's how you can enjoy every last bit of it."

I hope it turns out well for you. Sex can be many things, but the one thing it should always be is enjoyable. So here's to good sex when you're ready for it!

Love,

Red

PS--I am a little concerned about your use of the word "terrified." You didn't share this with me, but I'll just put it out there--if your fears are due to being mistreated or having an unwanted sexual experience or encounter, please, please see a professional. That is NOT what sex is.

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