7400.201 Courtship Marriage and the Family
Topic 4 - Sexuality

I am assuming that everyone agrees that talking about a subject is pretty harmless. Sometimes people are a little anxious about this part of the course. But if we treat the subject scientifically, we will be fine. For openers, Sexuality is a concept that has far reaching consequences, aside from any moral or ethical ones (not that morality is unimportant). Who is having sex and what is the history of the behavior?

Like gender roles, sex is social as well as biological. And as there is in gender roles, there is variation in sexual orientation.  Most people are heterosexual, preferring male-female sexual relations only. Well over ten million Americans are exclusively homosexual and many more than that have had some homosexual experience. Apart from their differing preferences for relationships, however, heterosexuals and homosexuals share many of the same meanings of sex.

Human love, according to Erich Fromm, does not reflect a Freudian sexual instinct. Rather, the need for intimacy has primacy over sex. Intimacy is a more fundamental need than the need for sex. Sexual relations may be seen as one way to fulfill intimacy needs. Actually, most people seem to sense the fact that sex needs to be an expression of an intimate relationship. Sexual activity is a natural expression of feelings of intimacy.

Some Sexuality Background
Sexuality in Dating - The Percent Sexually Active Among All Teenagers (ages 16-20) in:  

Year Females Males
Year Females Males
Year Females Males
1940 20% 40%
1960 25% 60%
1980 64% 77%
1950 21% 42%
1970 40% 60%
1990 70% 85%

This table appears to show an increasing number of younger people experiencing sexual activity over the last half of the 20th century, particularly during the 1980s and 90s.  Similarly, by 1978, among unmarried college aged women - 83% reported being sexually active - the rise occurring in areas of casual dating, as well as the normally sexual going steady and engaged statuses. 56% reported sexual intercourse by age nineteen.  However, The percentage of high school students having sex has continued to decline, falling from 54 percent of all teens in 1991 to 46 percent in 2001. At the same time, the percentage of sexually active teens who reported using drugs or alcohol before their last sexual encounter increased slightly during from 22 percent in 1991 to 26 percent in 2001. from The Percentage of Teens Having Sex Continues to Decline Internet.  What are we to make of these statistics? Clearly, teenagers and young adults are becoming more intelligent about their sexual choices, if less direct experience is any indication.  It is doubtful that lack of opportunity is the cause of less widespread sexual experience, and more likely that young people are simply observing the consequences from their older siblings and friends.

Continuing - Statistics from public opinion surveys of all adult women suggest:

  • 56% had first time sex at ages 16-19.
  • 75% had more than one sexual partner.
  • 55% reported sleeping with someone on the 1st date.
  • 48% said sex is very important in their life.
  • 86% want sex more than once a week.
In answering the question, What would you do if your partner could not satisfy me?
    6% said they would leave the relationship  ... 19% said they would seek out other lovers.
    Additionally, 66% feel positive about their sexual performance  .....     40% sometimes want intercourse without cuddling
    72% sometimes want cuddling and foreplay without intercourse.

We've established that sexuality, particularly among members of American society, is seen as an important aspect of the culture. One's sexuality is a personal and private attribute, but one in which that people find significant meaning. We will demonstrate later that much of the meaning we find in our sexuality comes from our primary significant relationship - marriage.

Human Sexual Anatomy  and the Sex Drive (see your textbook appendix).
Most of the anatomical "parts" of female sexual biology have an anatomical counterpart in the male's sexual biology.

Corresponding Parts of Male & Female Anatomy
Female <---------------------> Male
Clitoris <---------------------> Penis
Clitoral Hood <-------------------> Foreskin
Ovaries <---------------> Testicles
Ovum Delivery<------>Sperm Delivery

Biological/Physical/Sexual Foundations of Human Social Life:

  • The scientific definition of sex is biologically derived. That is, the biological sex of an individual is determined purely in physical and physiological terms.
  • The human race, as is all of life, is divided in half by sex.
  • Genetic Males have lesser amounts of certain Estrogens and more amounts of Androgens, than do females.
  • Until puberty, especially before 6 or 7 years of age, it is very difficult to differentiate between boys and girls, provided they are dressed in a similar fashion.
At about 11-12 years of age, a little earlier for girls, a little later for boys, the thyroid gland sends messages to the sex organs (testes and ovaries) to begin hormone production. This is the process known as puberty and causes the physical bodies of boys and girls to take on remarkably new and different characteristics known as Secondary Sex Characteristics:
  • Androgen/Testosterone rich bodies (males) develop more hair distributed over their bodies, deeper voices, an Adam's apple, smaller breasts and buttocks, greater upper body strength in general. the ability to maintain penile erections & the ability to ejaculate
  • Estrogen rich bodies (females) develop rounded shoulders, hips, & breasts widened pelvic structure softer voices, only a little deeper than childhood the ability to produce ovum through the process of menses
  • Males have genitalia that is openly displayed when naked (a design feature to aid in the production of sperm which are optimally produced at 85-87 degrees F.).
  • Females have genitalia inside their bodies (a design feature to aid in the production of ovum which are optimally produced at normal body temperature - 98.6 degrees F.).

All humans have a SEX DRIVE - more in some individuals and less in others - but present in every person in varying levels over the life span.  The sex drive can be conceptualized as biological energy (Freudians refer to it as libido) that is most efficiently used in pursuit of and engagement in sexual activity.  Although sex is one of the basic drives in humans, the expression of sex is still a social phenomenon. Both gender roles and gender-role orientation affect sexual activity. Gender-role orientations may also influence sexual behavior. A number of different motives enter into sexual behavior.
There is enormous variation in the extent to which people in differing societies and within a particular society are aroused. There are also different preferences within a society. Such diversity underscores the fact that sexual behavior is learned. In an ideal world, there would be reciprocal desire between two people, but in the real world, there is a good deal of unwanted sex. It appears that the experience of unwanted sex is fairly common and begins early in life. Women are not always the victims, for women also engage in sexual coercion.

In accommodating the sex drive, human behavior will be affected by three biological needs. These are FACTS about human sexual capabilities:

    1. Continuous sexuality - human's have the capability and often have a perceived need for year round sexual behavior.
    2. Variety - human's have some degree of need for variations in specific activities and variations in partners
    3. Continuity - humans often have a need to keep sexual the frequency of activity continuously steady .

These principles have implications for marketing, morality, governmental sanctions, and sometimes moral outrages.  Note that these principles are merely biological drives that may or may not be acted upon.  In fact, the nice thing about being human is that we have the intellectual capability of recognizing that not all biological urges have to be acted upon.

The Early Sex Researchers
Kinsey
(beginning in 1937 to the present as the Kinsey Institute) presented information about behavior (practices) across racial, ethnic and social class boundaries. This information was obtained through interviews only, and while appearing quaint by today's standards however, the questions asked and the answers obtained represent breakthroughs in the scientific knowledge our society now holds about human sexuality. Virtually all research on human sexuality stems from Kinsey's early documentation.

Masters and Johnson (1966) actually did laboratory studies on the Human Sexual Response Cycle.  They measured various physiological variables before, during and after sexual activity, using volunteers. The researchers actually used invasive probes, medical measurement equipment, and later cameras, to record and document responses to sexual stimuli.  Initially, Masters & Johnson begin their studies using college aged males and commercial sex workers, concentrating their early work on the sexual response of males.  Shortly after their first report, they began using ordinary men and women in their studies, branching out into sexuality over the life span and sexuality among gay and lesbian subjects.  One of the most impressive findings of Masters and Johnson was their discovery and documentation of the human sexual response cycle.  First documented for men, the researchers later continued their work to find that men and women respond to sexual stimulation in often completely different ways.

In addition to the biological measurement data, these pioneers of sex research also speculated and documented sexual problems (dysfunction) and the emotions attached to sexuality. For example, they found that poor sexual communication is, from the sex researchers' data, one of the chief barriers to open sexual expression between lovers. Rigid social and personal values is another.  Since many Americans have been socialized to think of sex in the context of a wide range of moral and health issues, we may not always find the person who matches exactly our personal expectations about sex. Without adequate education and a vocabulary for the discussion of sexual matters, as well as our personal needs and desires, a person most likely will encounter difficulty in the expression and understanding of their sexuality.

Understanding the opposite gender's likely view of sexuality.
While sweeping generalizations are dangerous where something as personal as sexuality is concerned, there are some gender differences in the way men and women think about sexual matters. The way we talk about the activities we lump together as "having sex" is one example.  Women tend to refer to these in less graphic, more socially acceptable terms, often associated with specific facial expressions and eye movements. Terms such as "doing it", "going all the way", or "sleeping together" allow the image to be referred to without explicitly saying the scientific (intercourse, copulation, fellatio, cunnilingus) or colloquial words that would find your teacher in a lot of trouble if expressed here.  Men tend to use a larger array of graphically explicit terms to communicate the concept of sexual intercourse and related activities.

Similarly, men tend to think of sex as an activity - something that happens in a specific time frame (such as between favorite television programs), while women tend to think of sex as a state of being - a relationship that contains a sexual side or element. For example, two people might meet, become friends, and even come to hold the idea of the other person in affectionate terms. Within the context of that relationship, the moment the two engage in more or less explicit sexuality, the relationship will likely appear different.  For men, they would be likely to see themselves in a sexual relationship now - one that wasn't sexual before.  For women, a sexual relationship is too specific a term for a relationship that contains a sexual component. For women, they are likely to see every aspect of the relationship to have changed once the couple moves into a sexual realm.

Coming at sexuality from different gender specific points of view, there are really only three ways to achieve complete sexual satisfaction:

  • By happenstance being one of a couple that has well matched sexual expectations from the very beginning.
  • Falling into a satisfying sexual groove over time through trial and error - or
  • Developing the capability as a couple for negotiating mutually satisfying sets of expectations about sex by talking, exploring and nurturing the relationship outside the sexual parts.
Just as in verbal communication, sexual communication is best achieved when the couple focuses on what can be changed and focuses on changing the expectation rather than the partner. Expectations just have to be similar - in the same ballpark, without regard for any national standard of frequency, duration, intensity, or behavior. If a couple is happy and satisfied with their overall relationship, then sex is probably no problem.  However, it is interesting how fragile the marital relationship can be.  It can stand little introspection in some areas. By compartmentalizing "areas of satisfaction and dissatisfaction" we can begin to chip away at the overall relationship, because to fragment the relationship into sections or parts, we deny the reality that women may already understand - that a relationship is a whole thing with each "part" influencing all the others.

Here's a little thought experiment to test this idea.  Imagine you have a sweetie pie who is attractive, loving, sexy, and willing. Suppose your perfect soul mate, did something to badly offend you just now. Now imagine having sex with them knowing that they'd hurt your feelings.  It isn't easy to imagine, is it? Just for informational purposes, the frequency of intercourse is highest among newlyweds and steadily decreases over the duration of a marriage. Also - single people at any age have sex less often (with less variety and continuity) than married people, on the average.

The Human Sexual Response Cycle
There are four stages to the HSC: Excitement/Arousal - Plateau - Orgasm - Resolution
Males have one additional stage - the Refractory Period, which is the time between ejaculation and the ability to sustain an erection again.

There are very real gender differences in the way men and women experience the HSC.

For women - the capability of multiple orgasms and the ability to respond to sexual stimulation sooner after orgasm are two differences. Women tend to take a little longer to become Aroused, and the time from Excitement to Plateau often takes longer than for men ( a few minutes longer ).

I - The Excitement Phase - or foreplay - wait!!! What should we have done before we begin this Phase???? That's right, considered our contraceptive options and chosen the one that best suits our relationship.

Physiological Response - arousal consists of penile erection in the male and vaginal vasocongestion (lubrication) in the female. This is a basic response to the human species (and a pleasurable one too). The beginnings of cardiovascular increases continues as individual is stimulated. Often partners experience a sex flush (beats three of a kind).

What do Americans find sexually stimulating? Sensory stimulation - sight, hearing, aromas, tastes, and TOUCHING . As long as the condition is culturally defined as a sex one, it will be stimulating.

    1. Touching (tactile stimulation) is the all time favorite form of sexual stimulation. In some cultures, gentle stroking of the genitals is performed when children are fussy (the child's not the parents').
      a. The human body has Erogenous zones - in the order of concentration n of nerve endings (thus the higher the sensitivity) - genitals (specifically clitoris and penis), breasts, lips, interior of the mouth, inner thighs, ears, and the bottoms of the feet. Foot jobs? To induce Excitement: For starters, it is a good idea to begin at the bottom of the list and move up toward the top. This insures some degree of symmetry? Nah - too much stimulation too early is painful. Smooching too.
    2. Visual stimulation - to show the influence of culture, early studies of the effect of visual stimulation showed women to be much less aroused by visuals - pictures, films, body types - than men. More recent studies are finding less difference.
    3. Sexy Sounds - particularly talking and "paralanguage" are sources of stimulation, if performed in indirect ways. If a couple has difficulty talking about sex, paralanguage is a way to communicate your likes and dislikes during foreplay/excitement. "There, ahhhhh, yes, yes, yes, Oh god, Oh Ronnie, Oh Pam! Oooooooooooooohhhhhhhhaaaaaaahhh. You get the idea. Also soft lighting and Luther Vandross albums help set the scene..
    4. Smell and taste - cleanliness is the best aphrodisiac. Deodorants, mouthwashes , colognes, are methods of attraction and sources for sexual stimulation. Soap and water - the taste of clean skin!
Normal aging slows the arousal capacity in humans, but not so you'd notice. Aging doesn't come close to destroying it. Blood pressure problems, for example may contribute to impotence in men. Aphrodisiacs are cleanliness, good health, adequate hormone distribution, and a loving, considerate, active, and curious partner.

There is no known formula for insuring excitement, therefore one must be sensitive to one's partner and play it by ear (or toe or thumb or inner thigh). IMPORTANT to remember - during the excitement and plateau stages - the clitoris (women) and penis (men) are delicate little things, and can be easily over- stimulated when directly massaged.

Since we can exclude mind reading, GUIDANCE - verbal and nonverbal - is the Best (probably the only) way to make sex work really well - almost every time.

II.. The Plateau Phase

Physiological symptoms: General muscle tension (myotonia), Penis fully erect, vagina well lubricated, labia swollen and ready for penetration. It's ShowTime! WE ARE PRIMED FOR SERIOUS SEXUAL INTERACTION!!! This is the thrashing about / heavy petting portion of sex. When it comes to moving from the Plateau Stage to the Orgasm stage, Friction is our Best Friend. Direct stimulation of the genitals is most likely to bring orgasm the quickest, but that is not always the point. We aren't in a race here, unless we are teenagers sitting in our parents living room.

    1. Sexual positions and their functions
      a. Face-to-Face Man Above - the missionary position---traditional and the most popular in Hollywood, but the least likely position for female orgasm. 11% NEVER use this one.
      b. Face-to-Face Woman Above - the most likely intercourse position for female orgasm - she has so much freedom to guide her movements with two hundred pounds of manhood BENEATH her. Also allows the woman a more active part. 75% couples use this one.
      c. Face-to-Face Side by Side - freedom of movement for both partners. Less chance for muscle cramps, more relaxed position for maintaining the Plateau Phase. Less likelihood of achieving orgasm quickly.
      d. Rear entry - Not on women's orgasm top 10 list - is useful for couples attempting to become pregnant because penetration is maximized and sperm have a shorter distance to travel. Another pregnancy potential optimizer is use the f-f man above position and slip a pillow or two under the woman's bottom.
    2. Alternative means of Satisfying Sexual Needs: Before you can learn to love another you have to love yourself.
      a. All sex researchers and sex therapists agree that Masturbation is a useful activity. Some folks disagree. Here's something to think about.
      • 66% of women in 1950's were masturbating
      • 80% of women in the 1980's were masturbating
      • 70% of married men in the 1980's were masturbating
        • 66% in the bathroom
        • 82% in the bedroom
        • 14% at work
        • 75% use erotic literature
It is the least EMBARRASSING way to come to grips with your sexuality. You can learn about yourself in privacy. Becoming orgasmic requires learning & experience - self-knowledge. It is completely impossible to contract STDs through Masturbation - blisters maybe, but not STDS.  You can do this all by yourself when:
  • -you don't have a reliable sweetie pie or don't want one at the moment (school, work, other activities)...
  • -your sweetie is far away and you want to be faithful.
  • -your sweetie is in the hospital (aged)
  • -your sweetie is real mad at you and spits at you when you are near.

  • b. Mutual Masturbation - when intercourse is not desired for what ever reason - to add variety and pizzazz!

    c. Oral-Genital Stimulation - fellatio and cunnilingus. Redbook Magazine Survey - largely young married women is the readership

    • 75% of all sexually active Men perform cunnilingus
    • 43% of all sexually active Women perform fellatio
    • 34% of the women who perform fellatio report it enjoyable
    • STD's are possible.
III. Orgasm - the "KaBlammy" phase
Physiological response - a pulsating, spasmodic release of sexual tension. While the genitals are most affected with sensations, the entire body can be visibly shaken. Loss of voluntary muscle control. Blood rate, heart rate, breathing rate all reach a peak.
    1. The female orgasm consists of 5 to 12 involuntary contractions (8 tenths of a second apart) of the sphincter muscle that rings the front third of the vagina. A 12 contraction orgasm is known as a real big one, the average orgasm is about a 6.
    2. The male orgasm consists of two events:
    • a. the rhythmic contraction of the muscle at the base of the penis (parallel's the female orgasm).
    • b. a series of contractions of internal organs that expulse seminal fluid.
    3. Right after orgasm, in both sexes, clitoris and tip of the penis are extremely sensitive to friction. In the extreme, it hurts more than it feels good to continue. Timing is everything. Thus, simultaneous orgasm is more of a rare experience than a realistic goal. This is where generosity becomes an endearing quality in one's partner. While everyone is responsible for their own orgasm, having a sex partner who will extend certain courtesies is a pretty exciting prospect.
IV. Resolution Stage: this is where Cary Grant lights up two "Luckies"
Physiological Symptoms: organs & body return to normal status. Traditionally the position for sexual activity has been the missionary position - male-on-top. This position, coupled with the female's heritage for non-enjoyment of sex, and the female's historically passive role in lovemaking means that She expends less energy, on the average during sex than he does. Thus: The complaint that "He gets through with me and then rolls over and goes to sleep. I want to be held and cuddled."
The remedy is obvious - talking, equal or better activity in the sack.
(Refractory period - Males Only) - the time between ability to achieve another orgasm. Females are capable of multiple orgasms. Masters and Johnson found that the male HSC was normally like this:

    However, women's sexual response proved to be more challenging to graph. It seems that women's response fell into at least three categories:

Interestingly, any given female subject could respond to sexual stimuli along any of the three paths - depending on a myriad of factors - including the feeling she had for her lover and her ability to focus on the event. Thus, women were/are much more complex than previously thought. This is news to anyone who would like to be (or have) a superior sex partner where women are concerned.

Sexual Problems  - How much sex is enough? Surveys tell us that frequency of sexual activity seems to vary by age. On the average for:

        • Ages 18-25 12 times a month
        • Ages 25-34 8-11 times
        • Ages 35-45 Less than 8 times
        • Over 45 Years Less than 4 times
Sexual Dysfunctions - The number one sexual dysfunction, as it turns out, is usually a nonsexual marital problem. The couple just isn't getting along - they are angry or disappointed in each other in nonsexual ways. Sex therapists always look at the relationship first.
However, most sexual problems not related to the quality of the relationship tend to stem from inexperience and lack of education. Sometimes sexual dysfunction has its root cause in past experience, instances of sexual abuse, or psychological problems from past relationships. They may also be physiological in nature. The five most frequently cited sexual dysfunctions are:
    1. Problems in arousal - communication problems, needs haven't been met satisfactorily in the past - armored feelings against arousal. Also mismatched sexual scripts with no communication. Also loss of affection in other areas of the marriage.
    2. Premature Ejaculation - going from arousal directly to orgasm - mostly a male problem - anxiety and inexperience is the common cause, and fear of failure is the culprit of continued problems. Without the ability to talk fairly frankly, solution is difficult. There are some techniques used for teaching control, see a sex therapist or other qualified instructor. PE is easily remedied - and widely encountered, especially among younger males.
    3. Vaginismus - female-involuntary contraction of the outer vaginal muscles, making penetration very difficulty and painful. Remedy is patience, understanding, and non-demanding practice and possibly therapy. A
    4. Impotence - inability of male to achieve or maintain erection - if psychological it is easily detected and treated. If physiological, will require medical intervention - blood pressure, diabetes.
    5. Female Orgasmic Dysfunction - similar to premature ejaculations in the cure. Symptoms are an inability to achieve orgasm and a concomitant disinterest in sex. Other Issues in Sexuality
Extramarital Sexuality in the U.S.
    50% of all men currently married admit to having cheated at least once.
    25% of all women now married have cheated at least once.
    25% of all men make it a practice to cheat
    2.5% of all women make it a practice to cheat
    25% of the women who cheated loved the man
    63% of women who cheated repeated the experience more than once.

Adultery Factoids:

  • cheating decreases with age for men
  • cheating increases with age for women
  • 50% males at almost any age prior to 35
  • Married women in their twenties, are more likely than their husbands to cheat.
  • Males tend to isolate the incidence
  • Women encounter the adultery with more of their lives
Extramarital Sex provides:
  • a combination of stimulation & excitement
  • desire tinged with guilt
  • an emotionally heightening effect on both.
  • Requires conscious planning
Reasons for Cheating: Hedonism, Variation of sexual experience, Curiosity, Search for emotional satisfaction, a need for romance, friendship, rebellion, retaliation, and sometimes at Spouse's encouragement

Health Risks of Sex in the 90's
The big news is that Sex in the 90's is just like sex in the 70's, 60's, 50's, and 40's. That is - we go about having sex in the same ways. What has changed are the consequences of having sex, particularly sex with persons that you do not know very well.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: (a.k.a. "Venereal Diseases) There are about 26 different diseases, rashes, and infections known to be transmitted through intercourse, heavy petting, and/or oral sex. Most are neither dangerous or life-threatening.    Here are a few of the most common and/or dangerous to your health, listed at the far right of the page --->:

AIDS is cause by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). It primarily affects you by making you unable to fit other diseases.
These other diseases can be lethal over a lifetime of infection. Like almost all other diseases of all non-hereditary types, AIDS and other STD's are completely democratic. It doesn't matter who you are, but WHAT YOU DO THAT COUNTS. The HIV virus can enter the body through the vagina, penis, rectum, mouth, through ruptures or tears in any part of the bloodstream, through any mucous membrane.

No matter what you may have heard the AIDS virus easy to avoid. For a time during the hysteria about AIDS, there were questions about whether or not the virus could be carried by mosquitoes that had just feasted on an HIV positive person. STD's are hard to transmit! You don't become infected from clothes, telephones, toilet seats, kissing, saliva, sweat, tears, or from giving blood.  The AIDS virus is transmitted through:

  • 1. unsafe sexual activities
  • 2. sharing of needles used for injection
  • 3. the birth canal to babies of infected mothers before or during birth.
What Behavior Puts You At Risk
  • 1. Sharing drug needles or syringes.
  • 2. Anal sex with or without a condom
  • 3. Vaginal or oral sex with someone who does 1 and 2 above
  • 4. Vaginal or oral sex with someone you don't know well (a pickup date for example)
  • 5. Vaginal or oral sex with someone you know has several sex partners.
  • 6. Unprotected sex with an infected person.
What Behavior Keeps You Safe
  • 1. Abstinence - not having sex at all.
  • 2. Sex with one mutually faithful, uninfected partner.
  • 3. No shooting drugs
  • 4. Understanding the mechanics of "Safe Sex".
What is Safe Sex?
  • 1. Sex with one mutually faithful partner who is not infected.
  • 2. Always use a combination of a Condom, Spermicide (Nonoxynol-9, specifically), and a non-petroleum-based lubricant, when in doubt. When in doubt means if you are ABSOLUTELY SURE that you and your sex partner do not have the AIDS virus.
  • 3. Never allow blood serum, seminal fluid, or vaginal secretions to pass inside the bodies of you and your partner.
Time is on your side here. Lengthy courtships full of sex play are not ruled out. Just think of all the wonderful, sexy things that you and a partner can enjoy short of unprotected sex.
  • kissing
  • telling sexy stories to each other
  • kissing (this is an activity that deserves a double mention!)
  • strip monopoly
  • love poker
  • skinny dipping
  • dancing at the moon palace
  • playing nude gourmet restaurant
  • playing dress up (I'm too sexy for my hat!)
For now, there is no cure for AIDS. Cures for other STD's do not guarantee your immunity
Of all the contraceptive technology, only condoms provide any protection against STD's. Keep in mind that this protection is minimal, at best, and must be used every single time. How Do You Approach the Subject of STD's with Potential Sex Partners?
First, be selective in your choices for sex partners. Know them well and know their history. Wait to begin a sexual relationship until you are ready - then only proceed after all the contraceptive choices are discussed (this will mean condoms for most of you!). Think of it this way: You are about to engage in one of the most intimate activities known to Western Culture. Do you really want to have sex with someone unwilling to use a condom? No glove - no love! Talking about safe sex requires the same trust that engaging in meaningful relationships requires. Telling someone you'd die for them is a dramatic gesture, but usually a completely needless demand.

Contraceptives - See http://www.aafp.org/afp/20040215/853.html for the latest medical opinions about contraceptives.

There are Four Methods of Contraception:

  1. Abstinence - no sexual activity with allows sperm and ovum to meet.
  2. Chemical - reproductive system is fooled into thinking it is pregnant, or sperm is killed on contact.
  3. Barrier-a physical barrier is placed between sperm & ovum.
  4. Action - interruptions in the normal reproductive functioning through physical means.
Sometimes the safest thing is to Combine 2 and 3 (as in condoms and spermacide). Abortion is not considered a form of birth control.

Abstinence - Though not particularly popular in these days of instant gratification, abstaining from some (or all) forms of sexual activity is being rediscovered by many. Usually abstinence is not even mentioned as a situational lifestyle. Some people are actually returning to abstinence after their initial forays into the sexual frontier.

Chemical Methods-Oral Contraceptives
Combination Pill - 99% effective - Cost $107 a year plus $65 for visits to the doctor. Technology - high levels of synthetic hormones disallow the production of a viable ovum. The reproductive system "thinks" it is pregnant. Also thickens cervical mucus - no swimming. Advantages - provides constant dosages of estrogen and progesterone - lowers the risk of ovarian cancers and tubal pregnancy in some users. May ease menstrual cramps and offers some protection against rheumatoid arthritis.
Disadvantages - May cause weight gain, swollen breasts, light or absent periods, nausea, headaches, depression - may delay resumption of ovulation after stopping pill. Should not be taken by women with a history of breast or endometrial cancer, high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, liver disease, women who are breast-feeding, women prone to blood clots, women over 35 and who smoke, or are over 40.

Spermicide, often placed in carriers such as vaginal sponges, suppositories, jellies and creams. Alone, spermicides do a pretty good job of reducing/preventing pregnancy if used as directed. However they offer no real protection against the sexually transmitted disease. Spermicides are best used in combination with condoms.

Action Methods-Intrauterine Devices (IUD) 97% effective - $90 for device, $65 a year for doctor visits. Technology - made of plastic or copper/steel, the device is placed in the uterus inhibiting the implantation of a fertilized egg. The Uterine wall is irritated, making cervical mucus hostile to sperm.
Advantages - once inserted, requires no further action allowing spontaneous lovemaking.
Disadvantages - Increased risk of tubal pregnancy, infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease, may cause increased menstrual flow and cramps, possible perforation of uterine wall, partial or complete expulsion. Must be replaced yearly.

Barrier Methods-Diaphragm - 98% effective - $170 for the device, doctor's visits and spermicide.
Technology - prevents passage of sperm into female's reproductive tract. Should be used in combination with spermicides.
Advantages - fully reversible with no side effects. Disadvantages - spermicide must be reapplied for each episode of intercourse, some women find it difficult to insert and use, may become dislodged during sex. Periodic refitting by doctor. Some women are allergic to rubber or spermicide.

Condom - 98% effective - cost $3 to $6 a dozen. Technology - prevents passage of sperm to female. Advantages - available without a prescription at low cost. Not side effects, protects against AIDS and other STD's. Disadvantages - lovemaking must be interrupted to use, reduces sexual pleasure in some men.

Sterilization-Tubal Ligation - 100% effective - requires surgery ($1000). This is a permanent situation, although reversals are possible. Vasectomy - 100% effective - requires surgery ($350). permanent. 5. OTHER METHODS (NOT ADVISED)!

Not mentioned as a form of contraception are: Natural Family Planning (a.k.a. the Rhythm method) calendar based on the woman's menstrual cycle, basal body temperature, cervical mucous observation - 50-70% effective - no cost - requires abstinence during woman's fertile period. Advantages - does not violate religious rules against artificial birth control, requires no medication or devices. Disadvantages - restricts sexual activity to specific time of woman's menstrual cycle, much less reliable, requires strict discipline from couples. Withdrawal - highly unreliable - sperm may be present in fluids secreted before ejaculation.

Innovations in Birth Control:

  • The cervical cap is a barrier-type device that resembles a mini-diaphragm. covers the cervix to block the passage of sperm into female's reproductive tract.
  • Long lasting injections of synthetic progestin.
  • Norplant, six tiny rods that are implanted in the upper arm, delivers a steady low dose of progestin.
  • Vaginal ring that contains progestin encircles a woman's cervix, releasing - three months

 Pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases have been increasing among teenagers.

The majority of teenagers become sexually active between the ages of sixteen and nineteen. Substantial numbers begin sexual activity earlier. The proportion of sexually active teenagers declined in the mid-1990s, for the first time in two decades. The probability of being sexually active varies according to race and ethnicity and other demographic variables.  One of the consequences of teenage sex is a high rate of unwanted pregnancies and giving birth at an early age. Many teenagers give birth to children who are unwanted at the time of conception, in part because the mother is unmarried.

Birth control measures are readily available in most communities, but no contraceptive is foolproof, many young people fail to use birth control, not all teenagers find the prospect of pregnancy to be unsettling, certain parental attitudes and behaviors significantly reduce the likelihood of out- of-wedlock pregnancy, and the chances of pregnancy are much higher if a girl is going steady and if she has had discipline problems in school.

Whether wanted or not, the children of teenagers differ in important ways from other children. Teenagers who father or give birth to children are more likely that those who become parents at later ages to experience a variety of negative consequences. This is not to say that all children of teenage parents have negative outcomes. Clearly, little positive can be said for teenage pregnancy and childbearing.

Finally
Premarital sex occurs in all societies. One outcome of the power struggle in terms of interactions between men and women is the double standard, a long-standing fixture of American society that favors male interests. To some extent, the double standard has changed: Premarital sexual activity is nearly as acceptable for females as for males. Although the double standard accepted the fact that most boys would have premarital sexual experience, it did not mean that such behavior was considered ideal. Whether people believe that premarital sex is wrong depends on sex, age, education, race, and religion.

Attitudes do not necessarily reflect behavior.

  • The amount of premarital sex has increased considerably in recent decades. By the mid-1990s, nearly 70 percent of never-married women aged fifteen to forty-four years reported having had sexual relations.
  •  Whether sex occurs during dating depends on a number of factors. Those who are in fairly equitable relationships have the most sexual intercourse.
  •  As in the case of dating patterns, premarital sexual patterns depend on certain background factors, including race, religion, and family background (including parental and sibling behavior).

 Most Americans say that a good sex life is very important to a successful marriage.
The sex life of married couples has changed considerably. On the average, Americans have sexual relations about once a week.  The extent to which sexual satisfaction is important to marital satisfaction depends on how important sexual satisfaction is to the individual partners. Sexual satisfaction involves more than intercourse. Sexual satisfaction is less important than the quality of an intimate relationship. The relationship between sexual satisfaction and marital satisfaction is one of mutual influence. Perhaps the most obvious change in sexual activity over the course of a marriage is the decline in frequency. Still, sexual activity remains strong and important to many people as they age.

 Clearly, most Americans practice fidelity but many people engage in extramarital sex. Many married people fantasize about what it would be like to have sex with someone other than their spouse, but fantasies are not usually enough to motivate someone to have extramarital sex. For women, the main motivator seems to be a sense of emotional need; for men, it is more likely to be a purely sexual motivation. On the positive side, some people report that the extramarital experience provided them with a brief, but meaningful thrill, but there is also the possibility of crisis in marriage if the extramarital activity is discovered. Various outcomes of infidelity are possible, including divorce.