Sex: The basics

Let’s talk about sex! Here, Kids Help Phone shares information about what sex may involve and how you can stay safe.

Whether you’re thinking about having sex, already sexually active or just curious about what sex may involve, it’s important to have the facts. You may want to consider things like your definition of sex and how you can stay safe. Remember, you’re in control of your body, and only you can decide if/when you’re ready to engage in sex. You can also choose who you want to have sex with and how.

What does sex involve?

The definition of sex can mean different things to different people. Here are some examples:

  • Masturbation: this is when a person stimulates (excites) their own genitals with their fingers, their hand, a sex toy, etc.
  • Mutual masturbation: this is when the people involved in sexual activity masturbate together/in front of each other.
  • Oral sex: this is when a person’s genitals are stimulated by another person’s mouth.
  • Vaginal sex: this is when the vagina is penetrated (entered) by a penis, finger, sex toy, etc. This is often referred to as sexual intercourse.
  • Anal sex: this is when the anus is penetrated by a penis, finger, sex toy, etc.
  • Sexting: this is when people exchange sexual content (e.g. messages, images, videos, etc.) with each other through technology (e.g. phone call, text, webcam, etc.).
  • Other intimate contact: this may include things like touching, hugging, kissing or other contact of an intimate, personal nature.

People choose to have sex for many reasons — to feel good, relieve stress, feel closer to a partner, have fun, get pregnant, etc. During sex, you may experience different feelings both in your mind and in your body. Some people experience an orgasm (an intense feeling of pleasure) at the peak of sexual excitement.

What do I need to know about staying safe?

When it comes to sex, it’s important to stay safe and protect yourself from things like sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancy.

Consent (a voluntary agreement to do something) needs to be given by everyone involved in sexual activity. It must be clearly expressed in both words and behaviour. You can chat with your partner about what consent looks like (e.g. saying “yes” and nodding eagerly).

It’s also important for you and your partner to talk about safer sex. You can have a conversation with your partner about protecting yourselves from things like STIs (e.g. by using a condom) and, if applicable, unplanned pregnancy (e.g. by using a condom and the pill). You can decide together which safer sex practices work best for both of you.

If, when and how you choose to have sex is up to you. If you have questions about sex and/or how to stay safe, you can talk to a friend, parent/caregiver or a Kids Help Phone counsellor.


If you would like to know more about this topic, you can connect with a counsellor by phone or Live Chat.

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