What is sex?

So, what “counts” as sex? Some people think only a “penis in vagina” counts as having sex. Others include oral sex as “real.” Other might say anal sex counts as “real sex,” too. In fact, there are some people who think when you have held hands with someone, you had sex.[1] We are not kidding!

Your definition of sex probably depends on your parents, school, friends, Facebook, TV/movies that you watch, and books that you read. Our guess is that the word “virgin” goes along with whatever you “count” as sex and never having ‘done it.’

We can’t tell you what counts as sex. To simplify things so we can talk more, we want to separate “entry activities” and “non-entry activities.”

Non-entry activities (word cloud): kissing, rubbing, stroking, teasing, whispering, biting, grinding, licking, kissing, exploring, (make sure to check out Bishuk.org’s guide to How to Be A Great Lover (without penetrative sex)

Entry activities (word cloud): penis+anus, mouth to clitoris+vagina, mouth to penis, penis-in-vagina, finger in vagina, sex toy in vagina, and so-forth.

But what about your ‘first time’?

Sex—especially in a relationship—may take on a special meaning. Lots of TV shows talk about someone “losing their virginity” and imply that it means the same thing to every person. It simply isn’t true—the first time (or ‘sexual debut’ as some people call it) and how good/meaningful/important it is depends on lots of different things. Like if you love someone, how long you’ve been together, if you understand what you enjoy and don’t enjoy, how comfortable you are with your body, and how much you trust your partner. For some people, the first time can be enjoyable (or even magical.) For others, it can actually not be fun at all. And for others, still, it may be a mixture of both—exciting, but perhaps underwhelming.

If you are curious about if sex is the right step for you, check out this article on BishUK about whether it is the right time.


[1] Sanders, Stephanie A., Hill, Brandon J., Yarber, William L., Graham, Cynthia A., Crosby, Richard A. and Milhausen, Robin R. (2010). Misclassification bias: diversity in conceptualizations about having ‘had sex.’ Sexual Health 7(1): 31–34. DOI:10.1071/SH09068.