Sexual behavior can be any activity that expresses sexuality or leads to sexual arousal, and people define sex in different ways.
This may include:
Vaginal, oral, or anal sex
Fingering, hand jobs, or masturbation
You should feel comfortable with your decision to engage in sexual behaviors. You should not feel like you’re doing it because someone talked you into it or forced you.
You have the right to communicate clearly and honestly what you want and what feels good or does not feel good to you.
You should feel comfortable bringing up reproductive health and safer sex practices with any partner.
You have the right to consent or not consent to each sexual act, even if you’ve been sexual with the person or done this specific thing (even many times) before.
It is okay to say “Stop” at any point, even if you’ve started.
If you are fine with an activity, you can say things like, “Yes”, “I like it when you…”, “Can we try…”, “What if you tried it this way…”, or “That feels good.”
Birth Control and Reproductive Access and Rights:
What is Reproductive Justice?
Reproductive Justice is the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities. (Definition by SisterSong. To learn more about reproductive justice, click here.
What are my birth control options?
There are several options on the market, and you should talk with your doctor about which will work best for you. Internal and external condoms can be obtained without a prescription. Either way, it’s best to speak to your health care provider before choosing so that you can discuss your goals, any health concerns, and which method will work best for your needs.
How do I talk to my partner about birth control if I’m worried about getting pregnant?
Having open and honest communication is an important part of any sexual relationship. However, if you do not feel safe or comfortable doing so, you do not have to disclose if you are on the pill, have an IUD or an implant, use a ring or patch, or have taken emergency contraception.
If you would like to speak to your partner and feel safe to do so, you can bring up the subject by mentioning that you want to make the best decision for your health and well-being and that includes being on birth control while in a sexual relationship. You can ask if they have ever used any or if they are interested in learning more about the different options. You can also say that you plan to or already have spoken to a medical professional and have an understanding of which decisions will be best for you. If your choice is to use a prescription birth control, you can share how often you take it or have it administered and/or any risks associated with the option. If you choose external/internal condoms you can discuss preferences in brands and types that you both enjoy.
How do I advocate for myself?
You should never have to explain yourself after saying no to or expressing discomfort with sex of any kind; however, if you feel that it would help you to share how you feel with your partner or to stand up for yourself, you can definitely do so. Ways to do that include clarifying your boundaries, expressing that you know what decision is best for you, and sharing your expectations going forward.
Another situation in which you may want to advocate for yourself is around your sexual and reproductive health. This includes which birth control options are best for you, where you would like to receive services, the type of doctor/medical professional you would like to see, and where you receive results or obtain information on your reproductive care and sexual health.
In addition to advocating for yourself about this to a partner, it can also be necessary when speaking with a medical professional. No health care provider should ever pressure, judge, or shame you, and should never ignore or inadequately answer your questions and concerns. A doctor’s office is one place you should always feel safe, and your provider should trust you to know your own body and needs.
How do I talk to my medical provider?
As you are scheduling your appointments, you can state the reason why you are coming in, make a list of questions that you would like to ask, and ask if there is anything you should know about your options or how to prepare for your appointment.
What questions can I ask?
You can ask any and everything pertaining to your choices, risks, benefits. You can also ask for a demonstration; essentially, you can discuss all your concerns with your medical professional.
CONSENT IS THE VOLUNTARY AGREEMENT TO A SPECIFIC ACTIVITY. IF ONE PERSON DOES NOT AGREE TO THE ACTIVITY, THERE IS NO CONSENT. For sex and sexual behavior, each person must agree to each activity. Consent cannot be given freely if someone is being pressured, coerced, or forced to participate in sexual activity. Also, if someone’s ability to make decisions is impaired (for example, by drugs/alcohol or if they are sleeping) they cannot consent. Consent is needed no matter your relationship status, how long you’ve been together, or what your gender or orientation is.
THERE ARE WAYS TO MAKE SURE THAT THERE IS CONSENT BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR PARTNERS.
*BE CLEAR about being on the “same page” as your partners. You can ask, “Is there anything you don’t want to do?” “Do you want to go further?” “Should I keep going?” “Are you good?” or “Do you want to stop?”
If, through words or body language, your partner seems hesitant, unsure, or scared, don’t try to force them.
STOP, and then CHECK IN WITH CLEAR AND SUPPORTIVE LANGUAGE.
It’s okay to ask questions about what does or does not feel good during sexual activity. Open communication is essential. DON’T ASSUME SILENCE IS CONSENT.
GET CONSENT FOR EVERY SEXUAL ACT. For example, consenting to kissing doesn’t mean someone is consenting to anything else.
To learn more about consent, visit our Consent & Coercion page.