This article took me a long time to write. After the last Khmer article I wrote about “Virginity” went viral, I was drowned in all the comments, judgment, love, and hate. I knew that choosing to write about controversial topics like I do, I was bound to be judged and ridiculed. I have spent the last two weeks contemplating how I were to tackle this blog post; and I have decided to remain unbiased (at least as much as I can), blunt, honest and as bare-naked as I possibly can.
I have been asked this question by quite a few young women: do you think it’s okay to have sex before marriage? Simply put, yes and no. There’s no right or wrong to this question for it intertwines with your age, your culture, your partner, your maturity, and your readiness to dive into sex. Bear in mind, as you’re reading this, that I’m NOT telling you which path you should take; but before making that decision, you want you to be as informed as you possibly can.
Sex is a good thing. I’ve said this time and time again; sex is the most natural thing in the world. If it wasn’t for sex, we wouldn’t be here. As a living being, our instinct and purpose is to reproduce and pass on our genes. That’s how we have managed to avoid extinction.
As if that’s not grand enough already, sex has many health benefits, too. I won’t go into details on the science of sex now, but before and during a sexual intercourse, a person’s brain releases the hormones oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine – the so-called “feel good” hormones. They stimulate the brain, cause relaxation, and send enjoyment to the reward system of the brain. The same brain activities that can be observed when a person is using cocaine or when eating certain types of food. Basically, sex makes our brain feel good and it can be quite addictive, too.
Sex helps you understand your partner better. Having sexual intercourse is about the most intimate thing you can share with another person (or people). What’s more intimate than having a part of someone else inside you? Well, probably childbirth, but that’s a different story. As much as some people would like to deny it, sex is a HUGE part of marriage. Sexual incompatibility is actually one of the common reasons of divorce (at least in industrialized countries).
Now imagine this scenario. After getting married, you found out that your partner has higher/lower sex drive than you do, genitals that are too big/small, has erectile dysfunction, or simply can’t make you orgasm. There are also very very rare cases where you can be allergic to your partner’s semen. Be honest. Would you really be able to stay happily married to that person for the rest of your life? Would you not be tempted to have an affair at all? Most of us would not be able to. If you’re madly in love and are still stuck in the honeymoon stage, you would possibly respond with a resounding, “Yes, I would!” But the honeymoon stage does not last forever. Once the excitement and madness wear off, sex will be one part of the glue that holds a marriage together. There’s this saying that I’ve heard quite a number of times, “Would you buy a car without testing it first?” Unlike getting a car, marriage is supposedly for the rest of your life.
Oh no, it looks like this is going to be another long post, but bear with me.
Sex helps you understand yourself better; and I’m not only talking about your body, your sexual desires, but it also helps you establish your sexual orientation. Most of us are fortunate enough to know our sexual orientation early on in life, whether it’s from adolescence or during puberty. Some people, however, do not know their true sexual identity until AFTER they’ve been with a person, especially for those growing up in a sexually-suppressed and homophobic environment. I have talked and heard of plenty of people who did not know they were gay until after they got married and realized that they are actually sexually attracted to people of the same sex.
“But Catherine”, you say, “if sex is oh-so-great and wonderful, then all of us should be having sex regardless of our marital status, right?”
Remember what I said the purpose of sex is? Reproduction, which is one of the consequences of having sex. Whenever you’re having sex, you are risking getting pregnant or getting a girl pregnant. Remember that the ONLY 100% effective contraceptive method is abstinence. Yes, there are plenty of contraceptive methods out there, but they’re not 100% effective. A few of the most effective methods (IUD, Implanon), are still only about 99% effective. That means one in every 100 women using them will get pregnant at one point or another. Remember that.
Three words: Sexually Transmitted Diseases. On top of pregnancy, you can also contract STDs from having unsafe sex. Most STDs are curable, some are only treatable; i.e. HPV, HIV, or herpes. I can’t stress this enough: ALWAYS practice safe sex. That means using condoms (one at a time, in case you didn’t know that) or dental dam (because yes, you can get STDs from oral sex, too). If you are homosexual, although you don’t have to worry about knocking someone up, you should still practice safe sex to avoid STDs. They are not pleasant.
As much as I would like for us to live in a peaceful and understanding world, we aren’t. People can be prejudiced and they can hold on tight to social norms or taboos for dear life. When you choose to have sex for the first time, know that people/society will try to shame you for it. Some parents even disown their kids because of that. Will you be able to handle that? Will you be able to lift your middle finger to the air and say, “fuck it,” to society and people who judge you for that? Are you strong enough to take control of your own (sexual) life?
Now that we’ve gotten the pros and cons out of the way, before you make any decision, I want you to ask yourself some questions.
Are you ready to have sex?
A lot of people, especially teens, choose to have sex because of peer pressure. That’s one of the reasons NOT to have sex. I don’t think you’d want your first time to be in the back of a car or in a motel room.
Are you being pressured into having sex by your partner? Are you afraid that your partner would leave you if you refuse? If you answer yes to either question, then it’s probably not the right time. If your partner truly loves you, he/she will respect your decision. If otherwise, that person does not deserve you.
Can you handle all the cons/consequences? If you happen to get pregnant, get STDs, or if people find out and ridicule you, would you be able to handle that? Sex is great, but everything has its own consequences. Only YOU can decide which is worth more.
Look, I am not advocating for sex/no sex before marriage. I want everyone, especially all the teens and young adults out there to make informed decisions. Let’s face it. People are going to have sex whether you like it or not. Stop shaming them for it. If no one opens up and talks about this, you’re going to see heaps of teens fooling around, getting pregnant at 16 or going to an unsafe abortion “clinic” or even getting or committing sexual assaults.
If you’re reading this because you’re unsure whether or not you should “lose your virginity” (and I’m using the term loosely), I hope this has helped you somehow.