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What Is Sex? What "Counts" as Sex?

6 of 8 in Series: The Essentials of Getting Started in Sex

What is sex, exactly? In other words, what "counts" as having sex? And when do you stop being a virgin? Sexual relations cover activities beyond intercourse: They also include outercourse, oral sex, and anal sex. So what are the differences and how do they impact virginity?

One thing that all forms of sex (outercourse, oral sex, anal sex, and intercourse) have in common is that they involve two people giving each other the pleasure that comes from having an orgasm. Because this is a very intimate act, it should be done only by two people who are in a relationship.

Have a look at the four types of sexual relations:

  • Outercourse: This involves two people either masturbating each other or rubbing against each other with at least some clothes on. The penis doesn't penetrate the vagina or anus. Outercourse carries little risk of pregnancy (it can still happen!) and only a negligible risk of disease.

  • Oral sex: This includes fellatio, where the penis is stimulated by the partner's mouth, and cunnilingus, where the vagina receives oral stimulation. Oral sex carries the risk of transmitting disease but not the risk of pregnancy. Some people don't consider "oral" as sex, but it is.

  • Anal sex: This occurs when the penis penetrates a partner's anus. Though there is no risk of pregnancy, anal sex carries a very high risk of disease transmission.

  • Intercourse: Intercourse is when a male puts his erect penis into a female's vagina. It carries the risk of both transmitting a disease and leading to an unintended pregnancy.

As to the term virgin . . . technically speaking, you're a virgin if you've never had sexual intercourse. But from a historical point of view, being a virgin meant more than just not having intercourse. It also meant that you had never been intimate with someone of the opposite sex. But you can't say that two people who have spent time together with their pants down giving each other orgasms haven't been intimate. In fact, many people who have intercourse together still find oral sex too intimate.

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SERIES
The Essentials of Getting Started in Sex

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