A teenage girl with long hair resting her head to the side in her hand.

Do you have mixed feelings towards sex? Does the thought of it make you nervous, aroused or, perhaps, disgusted? Don't worry. Everyone's attitude towards sex is different and you may feel ALL these emotions during the various stages of growing up

As your mind and body develops during adolescence, an increased interest in sex is natural and to be expected. 

Our bodies go through certain changes during puberty and adjusting to new hormones can be difficult and confusing. The adult hormones oestrogen and testosterone are signals that your body is giving you new responsibilities, like the ability to create a child.

That’s why it’s important to get all your questions answered. It’s easy to feel embarrassed or anxious when talking about sex, but you need to be sure you have all the right information.

Past sexual experiences

At the same time all this is happening, if you have had a negative previous experience regarding sex (abuse / assault / exposure to pornography / non-consensual touching), this can make you feel bad or uncomfortable about it. 

An experience of childhood sexual abuse or sexual assault can impact on sexual relationships in certain ways such as having increased confusion during sexual and emotional intimacy. 

If you find any of these difficulties appearing when trying to get intimate when someone, it is important that you reach out to someone you trust or even find professional help to guide you through it and support you. 

What intimacy should feel like

Intimacy is a feeling of emotional connectedness, acceptance, belonging, understanding and friendship. Being sexually healthy means being able to comfortably discuss your feelings and values, initiate sex or say no to sex, enjoy sexual expression, arousal, and orgasm without fear, guilt or shame.

When sex does not reflect respect and consent, we talk about sexual abuse, and we talk about child sexual abuse when any kind of sexual activity is performed on a child or in the presence of a child. 

In the right circumstances, sex means consented and pleasant touch, it means enjoying the intimacy with that other person with whom you choose to have this experience, it is a feeling of closeness and wellbeing.  

Given that sexual abuse involves unwanted sexual contact or inappropriate exposure, sex and sexually intimate relationships can easily become a place where difficulties might appear.

Talking things through

If you feel you need someone to talk to about this, remember Childline is here for you 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. You can call us on 1800 666 666 or chat to us using the Live Chat button on www.childline.ie. 

If you’re not ready to talk to someone yet, you can always send in a question through our Ask Alex service or click here to see more articles on Sexuality and Relationships.

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