Our DOLLY doctor is Dr Melissa Kang, a general practitioner and lecturer at Sydney University.
Do you have to be a certain age to have sex? What if you’re 14? When I was 12, my friends were having sex but I always wondered how they bought condoms. I’m curious! - Kayla
DOLLY Doctor says: Firstly, sexual behaviours including kissing, touching someone’s genitals or breasts, oral sex, penis-vagina sex (intercourse), anal sex, and others. None of these behaviours are OK unless the people involved consent to it, no matter how old or young they are.
I’m guessing you’re referring to sexual intercourse and wondering about the ‘age of consent’, which refers to laws that say two people are considered old enough to be allowed to have intercourse. In Australia, this law varies from state to state. In most states, it’s illegal if you’re under 16. However, if two people are legally ‘too young’ but they both consent and are of a similar enough age, it's rare they would get charged. What’s more important is that a person has sex (of any type) when they’re ready - physically and emotionally - so that it’s a positive experience without any unwanted consequences.
Speaking of which, condoms are useful for preventing unwanted pregnancy and STIs. In Australia, people of any age can buy condoms. As for how it might happen, being able to have a conversation about sex with a potential partner is more likely to make it a positive and protected experience, so it’s good for people to ask about it first.
I’m 18 and have been with my boyfriend for just over a year. We tried having sex for the first time six months ago and, as I expected, it hurt a lot and I couldn’t fit it in – and I’m still having the same problem! All my girlfriends tell me to tough it out but I can’t, it just hurts too much. I feel like there’s something wrong with me and I feel ashamed and embarrassed – and I have no-one to talk to about it. I can’t go to the doctor because then I’d have to tell my parents – and it’s not the easiest thing to tell them. - Rose
Dr Melissa says: There’s nothing wrong with you. Young women can find sexual intercourse uncomfortable initially but sex should definitely not hurt, and your friends are wrong to tell you to “tough it out”. Both guys and girls watch porn or movies and think that intercourse will turn a woman on, when it’s much more likely to happen if other parts of the body are stimulated, such as the nipples and clitoris. If a woman is feeling a bit anxious, she’ll subconsciously tighten her vaginal muscles, which makes penetration more difficult. Spend time getting your boyfriend to touch you and try to bring you to orgasm without penetration. He can eventually use his fingers to gently penetrate you, using lots of lubricant, and after a few weeks you can try intercourse again using lube. Meanwhile, chat to your doctor about things like contraception, and you can also discuss the discomfort factor. All of this can be done confidentially.
I’m 17 and have been with my boyfriend for a little over a year. We’ve been having sex but have only used a condom a couple of times. We tend to use the ‘pull out’ method instead. I get my period regularly, so I know I’m not pregnant. But I’m worried that by not using a condom now we may be at risk of getting diseases. Can I have an STI without knowing it and give it to someone else late in life? - Emily
DOLLY Doctor says: I would encourage you to look into other ways of preventing pregnancy because the withdrawal method (pulling out before ejaculation) is really unreliable and you can still get pregnant. Condoms are the only method that protect you from STIs. So, if you or your boyfriend have had previous sexual partners and you’re both heterosexual, the main STI of concern is chlamydia. You might also like to find out about genital herpes. Chlamydia can be tested confidentially with a urine test and is easy to cure.
I'm on the pill (Levlen) and yesterday I had unprotected sex and I somehow managed to be a day behind on the pill, so on Sunday I'm taking the Saturday pill. Should I take the after pill? - Kali
DR MELISSA SAYS: Missing pills can lead to a higher chance of pregnancy, but exactly how high this chance is depends on which part of the packet you missed. First of all, go back to your last period. Counting forward from there on your packet, can you see which day you might have missed the pill? The highest risk of pregnancy happens if you forgot the pill straight after the sugar (white) pills. In that situation, you might want to take emergency contraception. But if you missed only one pill in the middle of the hormone (yellow) pills, it’s probably safe – just a good idea to use condoms for the next seven days as added protection. The pill works by stopping your ovary from releasing an egg each month. When you miss one pill there is a very slight chance that an egg will be released (hence the need for condoms or emergency pill).