Talk to the Hand: Biology teacher answers questions regarding sexual education

Student: My period has skipped last month, but I got two in February … is that common to happen?

Hand: It is common for women to have irregular periods. There are several factors that affect a woman’s cycle. For one, you can be genetically predisposed to this. For example, if your mom isn’t a “regular cycle girl,” it’s more likely that you won’t be either. Another cause of irregularity could be related to your exercise routine. If you have been working out a lot, you may drop your percent body fat composition enough to cause you to not have a menstrual cycle for a month or even several months at a time. Stress can also cause this to happen. Obviously if you are sexually active, then pregnancy is a consideration for why you missed your period.  If this irregularity isn’t a typical thing for you, I would recommend mentioning this to your family doctor and going from there.

Student: When sex education is being taught, do you think they should give out free protection?

Hand: This question is causing me more confusion on a personal level than I anticipated. I am torn because I realize that some percent of teens will choose to be sexually active no matter what they have or haven’t been taught when it comes to sex education. Many of those teens won’t use protection. I do not take this fact of life lightly. This is one reason why I am definitely an advocate for educating teens on a whole array of topics that relate to human sexuality, including contraceptives.

You specifically used the term protection in your question. This could refer to a variety of different contraception options; however, my assumption is you are referring to condoms. Right?

The majority of teens in our school district will likely first learn about condoms (and other birth control options) during health class their sophomore year. I’m not sure handing out free protection (condoms) at this time is the best option. I recognize that many teens will choose to be sexually active regardless of whether they are given free condoms or not, but I still think it’s reasonable for teens to have to seek out their own birth control.

That being said, teens need to know where they can go to get reliable and affordable protection. I personally like the idea of the school health office making condoms available for students as long as they’ve been educated about the risks of being sexually active as well as how to properly use condoms and other forms of birth control. I think this could encourage students to open up to the school nurse or health assistant with questions or concerns they have regarding sexual activity and contraception options.

Student: Can you still get pregnant from unprotected sex if he doesn’t ejaculate inside of you?

Hand: The short answer is yes. There are so many things I want to say here. Where to begin?

First of all, is it reasonable to expect a guy to pull out in time? Wow! I’m sure you get what I am trying to say here. That takes a lot of self-control. I understand you may be in a relationship with someone you trust, and they can truly be committed to trying to prevent ejaculating inside of you, but let’s just say there are better options out there. It is very common for guys to release some pre-ejaculate (often referred to as pre-cum) prior to full ejaculation. This means that there could be sperm entering your body and capable of fertilization.

The withdrawal method, as it’s called, can be as low as only 78 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. If you are going to have sex I would recommend more reliable forms of birth control.

Student: Should I use protection during oral sex?

Hand: STIs are real and not all of them are curable. So, yes, using protection during oral sex would be in the best interest of your health (and that of your partner).

The male condom is one option that most of us are aware of as a barrier method for any type of sex. There is also a barrier known as the dental dam (weird name, I know) that can be placed on the outside of a female (typically) to provide a layer of protection as well. Know that neither of these methods are 100 percent effective at preventing the spread of STIs, but they are better options than not trying at all.

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