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10 questions about sex that you might not ask your parents

Rajan Bhonsle, sexologist, MD, debunks several myths surrounding sexuality

Why do parents feel uncomfortable talking about sex?

  • They themselves usually have had no sex education as children.
  • They have learnt that sex is too dirty a word to be verbalised.
  • They are simply afraid that they might not have all the right answers and correct vocabulary.
  • It is hard for them to accept that their children are sexual.
  • Some fear possible sexual feelings between their children and themselves.

Is there an appropriate age when individuals should start talking or understanding sex and sexuality?

Answering children’s questions about sex is one of the responsibilities many parents dread the most. Childhood is a period of utter innocence, but for adults sex is not so innocent a subject. Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • From the very infancy children have a curiosity about their bodies, which is absolutely normal and healthy.
  • It is best to start as soon as children begin getting sexual messages. They start getting them as soon as they are born.
  • The most important thing is to be open and available whenever a child wants to talk.
  • By the time a child is three years of age, parents must choose to use the correct anatomical words for all body parts including the genitals. The words – penis and vagina- should be shared matter-of-factly.
  • Children between three to six years of age are most trusting of their parents. At around age 5, you can actively begin to introduce books that deal with sexuality on a developmentally appropriate level.

Does talking about sex at an early age provoke or encourage kids to become sexually active early in their life?

Children make better decisions about sex when there are no restrictions on what they can ask and talk about home and when they have all the necessary information they need. This helps prevent possible sexual abuse, incest and sexual harassment at work as they are empowered to stop it, freely talk about it and report it immediately.

What are some of the values adolescents need to know about having sex?

The emphasis is on creating a generation of young adults who have a healthy attitude towards sex based on scientific understanding of this natural instinct for the continuity of life. Here are some pointers to keep in mind:

  • Sexuality is a natural and normal part of human life
  • Young people explore their sexuality as a natural process of achieving sexual maturity.
  • Individuals and society benefit when children are able to discuss sexuality uninhibitedly with trusted adults such as parents, family doctors, teachers and educators.
  • All sexual decisions have effects and consequences
  • Premature indulgence in sexual behaviour poses risks.

When should girls be introduced to the concept of periods?

Eight to twelve that is pre-teens is the age of sexual awakening. Girls need to know about menstruation. Preparing girls about getting periods before they get one is mandatory, as it makes them physically and emotionally ready even in the absence of any help.

What are some of the things you must know before you decide to lose your virginity?

It can result in damage to the reproductive system as the body may still be in the process of maturing. Sexually transmitted diseases are the greatest hazard in sexual experimentation. Also, sexual relationships should never be compelling, exploitative or lead to physical or psychological harm. Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • STDs including HIV can be transmitted through exchange of body fluids, which includes any form of penetrative intercourse, and even other acts such as oral sex and deep kissing
  • Condoms or any female contraceptive is not 100 per cent safe.
  • If you get pregnant you need to consider whether to continue the pregnancy or terminate it.

What are wet dreams?

Boys/men sometimes release semen during sleep. This is commonly known as wet dreams, nightfall or nocturnal emission. It is a normal, natural and uncontrollable response to sexual tension that gets built up within the body.
At the age of 12-13, the testes in boys start producing sperms. At this age boys start developing sexual attraction and start discharging semen during sleep. There is no reason to feel worried, frightened or guilty about a wet dream. It happens with all boys/men and is not a disease.

What is the white liquid that comes out?

When you reach puberty, you may start noticing that a different fluid spurts out of the erect penis if you got sexually excited. It appears milky in colour and is sticky. This is semen. The sexual pleasure that you experience when you come is called orgasm or climax. The squirting of the semen is called ejaculation. The sticky transparent fluid that oozes out of the penis before ejaculation is called ‘pre-ejaculate’ or ‘pre-cum.’ Pre-cum can contain sperms and can cause pregnancy.

Women who experience orgasms during sleep usually have them several times a year.

Is masturbation good?

It is a physiologically harmless activity. Contrary to common beliefs, it is not a hazardous, corrupt or sinful activity either for men or for women. It is natural and normal. As a matter of fact, it is a safe and simple method of relieving sexual tension. However, the feeling of guilt, shame, worry, and conflict associated with masturbation can be detrimental to one’s emotional health and self-esteem. There is no numerical safety limit to how many times in a day a person should or can practice masturbation. It is a matter of concern only when masturbation becomes a continuous preoccupation and is so frequent that it significantly starts interfering with other aspects of the person’s life.

Some people do not want to masturbate for cultural, religious or even personal reasons. This is absolutely fine too. If one is not comfortable with masturbation, one can still have a normal, healthy and gratifying sex life.

What are the effects of watching porn?

Research has shown that pornography and its messages are involved in shaping attitudes and encouraging behaviour that can harm individuals and their families. Pornography is often viewed in secret, which creates deception within marriages that can lead to even divorce in some cases. The general content of pornography supports abuse and the rape myth (that women enjoy forceful sex) and serves as a how to for sex crimes.

Watching porn can become an addiction. It progresses through the following four stages:

1.Addiction: Pornography provides a powerful sexual stimulant or aphrodisiac effect, followed by sexual release, most often through masturbation.

2.Escalation: Over time, addicts require more explicit and deviant material to meet their sexual needs.

3.Desensitisation: What was first perceived as gross, shocking and disturbing, in time becomes common and acceptable.

4.Acting out sexually: There is an increasing tendency to act out behaviours viewed in pornography.

Some excerpts in the interview are taken from Dr Rajan Bhonsle’s book, The Complete Book of Sex Education.

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NEXT STORY


‘You’nique - An open letter By Mr. Gay India Sushant Divgikr

Mr. Gay India, actor and model, Sushant Divgikr pens an open letter to the teens and opens up about what it means to be a homosexual in the Indian context...

Dear Teentalkers,

I realised very early in life that I didn’t fit in to people’s idea of normal. I didn’t behave the way other boys my age were ‘expected’ to. I realised that boys were expected to like the colour blue, play with toys like cars and G.I joe’s, were supposed to play sports and were told not to cry! Boys were always told that showing their emotional vulnerability meant being ‘girly’. Whatever that even means!

But then I started seeing through these people. Who were these people anyway? Who were they to decide how one should talk, dress and what toys we should play with as children? Who decides what qualifies as ‘girlish’ and ‘boyish’! Who decides how men and women should feel and behave about different situations life throws at us?

Family is the foundation

I have had the privilege of being raised in a family that allowed me to be myself – choose a Barbie over HE-MAN and wear any colour I wanted to. What is interesting is that I have an older brother who was brought up in the same home, with the same parents that allowed him to choose what he wanted to wear, play with as a child etc just like me. My parents allowed both their sons to choose what they wanted to do and be. Yes! I am lucky as I am blessed to have a family that never thought it was abnormal for a male child to conform to gender stereotypes that people have set for us to follow!

A child never hates or discriminates unless taught to

When I was in school, I saw most of the boys in my class talking, behaving in a certain way that I didn’t particularly relate to. Hence, most people looked at me differently. Not that it mattered too much to me because I had some wonderful friends who were there for me and are going to be the flower boys at my wedding whenever I find a suitable groom. These friends were by my side from back then to this day and have always supported me in whatever I do.

Blame the patriarchy

There were a few who didn’t get me but, was it them? Or was it the way they had been primed socially? I think it is the constant reminder of gender stereotypes around them.

I am too fabulous for anyone’s opinion

There was name calling at times but not many physical fights considering it was an all-boys school and I was a sportsperson (surprise, because how can he be gay and play a sport?). A swimmer to be precise and the sports captain of my school. I also did relatively well in studies, I topped languages and history. So you see, being gay has nothing to do with your success and failures in life.

I had some really amazing peers and my family comprised of total bosses! They set the foundation and allowed me to step out with much confidence. I walked into college life so comfortable in my skin that even if there were kids who were nasty to me, none of that made me shudder and re-think my fabulousness.

Teentalk Counsellor, Kshitija Sawant addresses the matter – “A counsellor at the Humsafar center, carried out a study. Her research was aimed at studying the problems faced by Homosexuals in dealing with homosexuality in the Indian context. Her research revealed that the most important problem is the non-acceptance of their sexuality by their own family members. All 16 respondents reported that the very thought of disclosing their sexuality or orientation to their parents gave them severe trauma. While some parents accept homosexuality in others they could not accept it in their own family. Some parents don’t consider homosexuality a sexual orientation but a sexual experiment.”     

Karma is key

I eventually started helping people who were not as fortunate with supportive families and friends. I would volunteer with the psychology department of my college to talk other students who faced discrimination at the hands of their peers because of their gender and sexual orientation and more broadly just bullying as a whole. I kind of felt like the male version of Oprah, trying to help everyone I could.

People would write to me on social media with their problems (yes we had social media when I was in college just so you know I’m not fossil) I realised most gay people did not have as pleasant a journey growing up as I did. I realised that most times, they were hurt most by the actions and reactions of their loved ones. They were broken because they were abandoned by their ‘friends’ because they ‘came out’ as gay, lesbian, bisexual to them.

You are unique, don’t let them box you

When I saw people my age going through this turmoil I thanked my stars for the life I had. I was so hurt because these people were picked on by their close ones as a function of being UNIQUE! I don’t understand why people pick on others for their colour, race and sexual orientation. I didn’t CHOOSE to be gay, just like people don’t choose to be straight, they just are!

I just want to tell each and every person reading this that YOU are going to be unique even if you try and ape someone else. You are still going to be that person that you might want to push back to please the world so that people don’t question you. You should never try and fit into these boxes people try to force you into, if you were especially made to stand out and shine bright. You should not let anybody break your self-esteem and morale, in fact you should do all that makes you happy and just be the best version of yourself.

This is to all the people that have a hard time trusting themselves to be the best they can be. Here’s a big virtual hug and if you ever want to feel special, a mirror is all you need! Tell yourself you are worth it, motivate yourself, find time to understand yourself. You are the best company you keep. 

Big love,

Sushant.

 

If you have a story to share, Email it to us HERE.

If you have a query, Email it to us HERE.

You can also chat with the counsellor by clicking on Teentalk Expert Chat.

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