By Cece Meddock | @cece.meddock
Welcome to Do Not Disturb! In this first issue, we cover some more general questions surrounding sex. For the purposes of education, some terms are defined that may seem obvious to you, but that doesn’t mean they’re obvious for everyone!
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★ What encompasses body count?
TW: Mention of sexual assault
Typically, the term “body count” is meant to represent how many people you’ve been sexually active with, but societal ideas about what sex is, what “counts” as sex, and who has sex has kind of muddied the water a bit. Our society puts a large emphasis on penetrative sex between someone with a penis and someone with a vagina, when that’s not everyone’s definition of sex! Sex comes in all different forms, and some people find keeping track of their body count helpful and necessary, while others don’t, and either is fine. Some people also think that, because they’ve experienced sexual assault, that that experience counts toward their “body count”, which doesn’t have to be true if you don’t want it to be. Body count can mean anything you want it to mean, realistically. In the end, it’s just a tool that our heteronormative and patriarchal society uses to uplift cisgender, heterosexual men and to add to the shame that LGBT+ people and women already experience. If body count is something that is important to you, then so be it! But it’s important nonetheless to remember that there’s a history behind the term and that the term itself has evolved into a more ambiguous concept.
★ What is the definition of being sexually active? Is it penetrative sex?
The definition is somewhat subjective, and completely depends on who you ask, but I’ll give you a few different ways to think about what being sexually active really means.
In the context of the medical field, the typical definition is “any sexual activity that can transmit sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or get someone pregnant.” Now, depending on who you’re sexually attracted to and what type of sex you have, you can understand why this definition might not be all-encompassing! In general, being sexually active means consistently having or seeking out sex, whatever sex means to you. If that means penetrative sex, then yes! If that means solely oral sex, or fingering, or mutual masturbation, or anything in between, then that’s the definition that fits you and your sex life! It is important to remember, though, that if you’re in a healthcare appointment and they ask if you are sexually active, that usually means they are asking if you’re having a type of sex that could potentially put you at risk for STIs or pregnancy, or both.
★ Should I get an IUD if I’m not having sex regularly?
This is completely up to you. IUD stands for Intrauterine Device; it is a form of birth control that gets inserted into a person’s uterus by a medical provider. When trying to make this decision for yourself, you should remember that there are two different types of IUD, and they differ depending on your reasons for wanting to start using one and your possible concerns about birth control in general. Both types have the same shape (kind of like the Aries symbol, if you’re into astrology), which works to physically block sperm from entering the fallopian tubes and fertilizing the egg(s), but each separate type works in its own way to prevent pregnancy. The first type is the hormonal IUD, which comes in three sizes (because uterus size varies from person to person!), and dispenses hormones to prevent pregnancy. All hormonal types of birth control work because they thicken the cervical mucus, thin the lining of the uterus, or prevent ovulation altogether. The other type is the copper IUD, which does not use hormones, and instead relies on copper wire to neutralize sperm as it enters the uterus.
Some people find the hormonal IUD more suited to their needs, as it releases hormones directly into the body in the area it is affecting, and can stay in for up to seven years. Others prefer a non-hormonal option, so they opt for the copper IUD, which can stay in up to twelve years and be used as a method of emergency contraception as well.
As for if you should get one if you’re not having sex regularly, the IUD is a good long-term option for people who don’t want to get pregnant for at least a few years, and is a good option if you don’t want to have to think about taking birth control or remembering to do anything. Just because you might not be having sex regularly, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other benefits to birth control! Hormonal birth control can ease period symptoms, such as cramps, heavy flow, or long periods, and could even stop your period altogether. All in all, I can’t make the decision for you, I can only give you the necessary information to consider, but if you want long-term protection that you don’t have to think about, the IUD might be a good option for you!