We teamed up with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to bring you some basic tips everyone should know before their first sexual encounter (well, before every sexual encounter). Follow the links for more information, more articles, and more research.
Sex isn't a dark sordid secret – it's one of the keystones of humanity.
Despite this, friendly and accurate advice on sex and sexual health is hard to find in Sri Lanka. In fact, many schools lack delivery of comprehensive sexual and reproductive education. We’ve even found out that some school teachers staple up the sex-related pages of the Biology text book (what a waste of education. And staples!).
Are you ready? Let's talk about sex, baby!
What is consent? It means that you're in charge of your body and you are aware of it. As long as you're not harming anyone, you get to choose what you do with it, who gets to touch it, and when and how that happens. Consent means both partners agree and are enthusiastic.
If you're not really into it, DO NOT let anyone coerce, wheedle, emotionally blackmail, or make you feel uncool for not having sex. Violence is not only physical, it's mental or emotional too.
If you're not sure if someone wants to have sex with you, just ask. Any response except for a resounding "YES", means they do not want to have sex, and you shouldn't try and make them via emotional coercion ("why don't you love me?"), coercion ("if you don't have sex with me, I'll tell people about us"), intoxication (wait till they're drunk or on drugs to try and sexually approach them) or any other types of persuasive methods.
No means no.
You'd be surprised at how vague the average person's knowledge of male and female anatomy and functioning is. There's a lot more going on than just penis and vagina, and if you're going to have sex, you should probably know what you're using.
For example, according to the National Youth Health Survey* over 50% of Sri Lankan male youth claimed they didn't know about the menstrual cycle, and some 60% of Sri Lankan female youth said they didn't know about the male reproductive system or physiology.
*Source: Family Health Bureau, Ministry of Health, UNFPA and UNICEF (2013)
3. Infections are very real.
Any sexually active person can get them, and they aren't always physically obvious or noticeable to the eye.
You're not immune if it's your first time.
Anal or oral sex does not protect you from STIs
You cannot use a siri siri bag as a condom. You cannot use anything except a condom as a condom. Just use a condom.
ALWAYS insist on a condom unless you have gotten tested and have discussed family planning with your partner.
TIP: Urinating right after you have sex is great for your body, especially if you're a woman. The stream pushed out potentially harmful bacteria that could travel up your (relatively short) urethra.
4. Understand contraception
The best ways to avoid unwanted pregnancy is:
Use a condom
Use regular oral contraceptive pills
Use an IUD or implant
Use an emergency contraceptive (also called the morning after pill. This should be used ONLY in emergencies, as it's not good for your body and if you use it often, its efficiency drops)
5. Sex should make you happy!
Good, consensual sex with a partner you trust releases endorphins, leads to greater intimacy, and stronger bonds. However, if you're in pain, if you're miserable, if you don't feel good during or after intercourse, STOP. You don't have to grit your teeth and bear it like you're getting your tooth removed. You do not have a duty to have sex just because everyone else is doing it, you need to "prove your love" to anyone, or because you're in a relationship. Okay, sometimes things could get uncomfortable, in which case you should have…
Open and honest communication is probably the best thing for anyone's sex life, whether you're with someone new or your long term life partner. You'd be surprised at what respectful conversation could do for your relationship and comfort. Talk about what makes you uncomfortable, what you like and want more of, or how you feel.
7. Sex is a responsibility.
It's not all slow-motion grunting like in the movies. The consequences of sexual activity are vast, in terms of pregnancy, infection, relationships, and emotions. Make sure both you and your partner are ready, consensual, and of a legal age.
Teen pregnancy is a very real problem in Sri Lanka, mostly due to a lack of information – According to UNFPA Sri Lanka, 6% of 15-19 year olds girls have had a baby/or were pregnant. Since abortions are legal only in very particular circumstances in Sri Lanka, many illicit methods and clinics that provide this service in less-than-optimal conditions, which could lead to infection or even death.
HIV/AIDS is not rampant in Sri Lanka, but it is still present and the number of cases have increased in recent years. Make the most of Sri Lanka’s free healthcare, and get yourself and your partner tested before you have sex.
8. Local Laws
Find out where you stand in Sri Lanka's legality before you have sex. The local age of sexual consent is 16. Individuals aged 15 or younger in Sri Lanka are not legally able to consent to sexual activity, and such activity may result in prosecution for statutory rape.
As it stands, "unnatural acts", which is read as homosexual activity, are still criminalised in Sri Lanka.
9. Porn does not equal real life
Sri Lanka has topped the Google search list for the word ‘sex’ consecutively since 2011, this shows that there are a lot of questions about sex out there which end up getting answered by the easiest source – pornography. In reality, porn isn’t a great source of safe or reliable sex practices – there’s rarely any condom usage, and sex is usually way rougher, faster, or louder than it is in reality. Get ready for a lot more mutual communication, fumbling, and hair!
So don’t expect anything more than a needle jab from your nurse, and remember that porn is about fantasies, and real life sex is about mutual pleasure and connection.
10. Sri Lanka has great information and services on sexual and reproductive health!
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has a wealth of accurate and reliable information on sexual and reproductive health in Sri Lanka, which you can access via srilanka.unfpa.org
The UNFPA has also developed an app that provides easy-to-understand sexual reproductive health information in English, Sinhala, and Tamil (Available on Android – 'UNFPA Able')
Health Education Bureau "Suwasariya" Health Helpline- 0710 107 107
National STI/AIDS Control Program– 011 26 67163
Happy Life– 0112 588 488
Family Planning Association 0112 588 488
National Child Protection Authority– For minors suffering abuse. Call 1929.
CERT– Cyber harassment or cyber bullying (including sharing of photos etc).
Women’s Help Line– Call 1938.
Sumithrayo– For mental health issues. 0112692909.
Make sure you check out our video for a more in-depth overview of the dos and don’ts when it comes to sex. YAMU has created this content in consultation with experts at UNFPA Sri Lanka.