So, you’re planning to have sex. Whether it’s your first time or your hundredth, a little practical prep goes a lonnnnng way in setting you up for a positive experience. Don’t worry, we have you covered! Our sex checklist will help get you prepared when your thoughts might be, ahem, elsewhere *wink*.
Betty’s Body-Smart Sex Checklist:
[Jump to a section by clicking a checklist item.]
Not sure if you know this, but becoming pregnant is, uh, a massive, life-changing thing. So to all our Betties – the singles, going-steadies or the married – we recommend using contraception until you’ve made the intentional decision to become pregnant.
And thankfully, you’ve got a load of preventative options to choose from! Looking for a common and convenient option you can keep on hand? Enter: the condom. You can purchase condoms at convenience stores, find them at your college campus clinic (usually for free!), or even order a box from online stores like Amazon. Condoms come in two varieties: external (for people with a penis) and internal (for people with a vagina). Condoms are very effective, but need to be used correctly and consistently.
Betties may also want to try a form of contraception (aka birth control) such as the birth control pill, intrauterine devices (IUD), hormonal patches, or vaginal rings—all of which are highly effective.
Have a question about your birth control options?
Book a Care Anywhere appointment with one of our gynecology providers. They can talk you through your options and help you make a decision that’s best for your body and lifestyle.
Like we said, condoms are both convenient and effective in preventing pregnancy. But *BONUS* they also help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Did you know that 1 in 5 people in the United States have an STI? Betty’s Co. providers recommend routine STI screenings for sexually-active Betties under the age 25. For our over-25 Betties, we recommend screenings only with new or multiple partners. We also suggest checking in with your partner about their sexual history to make sure they’ve been tested. If you’re not confident in your partner’s infection status, be sure you use a condom.
It’s no secret that here at Betty’s, we are *BIG* fans of lube. Vaginal dryness is pretty common, regardless of age, and can make sex pretttttty uncomfy. Even if your sexual activity is non-penetrative — such as stimulating the clitoris — a little moisture helps protect the sensitive skin and create a more pleasurable experience. We recommend using lube every time you engage in intimacy. Here’s why: lube also reduces microtrauma to the vagina and helps prevent condom breakage. (Betties, we call that a win-win!)
New to personal lubricants? You may want to read up on its ingredients. If you’re using latex condoms, water and silicone-based lubes are a must. Other types of lube break down the latex. Silicone-based lubricants often have a smoother and more natural feel than water-based. Remember, do not use oil-based lubricants with condoms. If you’re not using condoms, you can use oil-based lubricants or natural oils, such as coconut oil.
In general, thinking ahead is a surefire way to enhance your sexual experiences – and that goes for planning where this rendezvous is going to take place. Find a place where both you and your partner feel safe, respected, and comfortable. You also don’t want your roommates awkwardly strolling in…YIKES.
Maybe you’re wondering why consent isn’t the first thing on our checklist, considering it is the most important must on our whole list. We’re glad you think so, too! While consent is required to initiate sex, it doesn’t end at the beginning. Consent is an ongoing process throughout sex and must be given in the moment.
As a person engaging in sex with another person, allow yourself to be empowered to both give consent and ask for your partner’s consent to engage in that activity (“that” meaning with every progressive act during a sexual encounter).
So, before you leap into anything – even foreplay – ask your partner what they want. Consent should be clearly and freely communicated between participants. A verbal and affirmative expression of consent helps both you and your partner to understand and respect each other’s boundaries.
Remember, consent is dynamic and fluid — it can change! It must be given in the moment, but it can also be revoked at any time. Just because you agreed last week does not hold you to agreeing with what is happening in the present moment. And just because you agreed to one sexual activity in the moment does not mean you consent to another.
*SPOILER ALERT* Sex is NOT like the movies or porn. Few things are as frustrating as unmet expectations, especially when media’s portrayal of intimacy has morphed those sexpectations (take Ariana Grande’s “34+35” for example). If it’s your first time ever or your first time with a new partner, focus on maximizing your comfort and letting go of expectations. It may be a little underwhelming and it may be awkward, and that’s okay! Pleasurable sex requires patience and practice.
The best “sex tip” we can give you is to communicate! Talk before, talk during, and talk after. At every stage of the process, you should be telling your partner what you like, what you don’t like, and how the two of you can work together to improve the experience for you both.
Before sex, talk through foreplay. What turns you and your partner on? Do certain things make either of you uncomfortable? In the middle of sex, help each other. Afterwards, reflect on what happened. Don’t just leave your partner hanging. Tell them what you enjoyed, and ways to enhance the next experience. TBH, sex is one of the most intimate human-to-human acts. So, we should normalize talking about the experience with our partner, don’tcha think?
*sigh* There’s no shortage of sex advice out there on the internet, yet post-sex cleanup pointers are rarely included. Keep reading for a few recommendations to add to your after-sex care regimen.
First, it’s good practice for all vagina-owners to take a quick trip to the potty right after sexual activity. Peeing will push out any bacteria that has the potential to cause a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Clinical note: The post-sex pee isn’t a foolproof method, simply because there’s not enough data to support its effectiveness. However, it may help and certainly won’t hurt!
Next, take a look at your preventive method(s). If you used a condom, make sure it didn’t bust. If you take a birth control pill, stay diligent, but double-check your pack to make sure you didn’t miss a pill. If you have an IUD, check the placement of the string. If something is off with your preventive measures, take a trip to the store to pick up Plan B—an emergency contraceptive method that works if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.
Lastly, survey your surroundings. Used lube? Check any fabrics or surfaces that might need your attention or thrown in the wash. Condom part of your preventative method? *high-five* Wrap it up in toilet paper and throw it away (Do not flush down the toilet).
Sidenote for Betties who have unprotected sex with penis-owners: semen will come out of your body as soon as you’re vertical. If this bothers you, you might want to keep a towel nearby and place it between your legs as you separate.
There’s no reason to rush a post-sex scene clean up, but you or your partner may prefer to hit the shower for a refresh!
Did Betty’s Body-Smart Checklist help you prep?
Do you have any other recommendations?
We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Leave your best advice for other Betties to learn how to create positive sexual experiences!