Love and sexual desire are not the same thing.

Love is a strong caring for someone else. It comes in many forms. There can be love for close friends, for parents and children, for God, and for humankind.

Sexual desire is a strong physical excitement. Sometimes it is a fantasy we create. Sometimes it is a heavy crush. Sometimes it is just a flirtation. Sometimes it is all we can think about. Sometimes we let ourselves have sex because of it. Sometimes we don’t.

Love can exist without sexual desire, and sexual desire can exist without love. Many people are happiest when both love and sexual desire are shared between both partners. When it comes to love and sexual desire, it is normal for people to be different — in their feelings, needs, and behavior.

Some people believe that sexual intercourse outside of marriage is never O.K.

Other people believe it is O.K. Most people believe that sometimes it is O.K. and sometimes it isn’t. Adults often find it hard to decide. Young men and women usually find it even harder.

We make decisions about sex using the values we learned in our families and communities as well as our own religious and moral beliefs. We need to make choices that make the most sense to us. And we must take responsibility and accept the consequences of our choices we make.

When we reach puberty, our needs for touching and holding and giving and receiving love are very strong. How to satisfy those needs without getting hurt can be very confusing.

Vaginal intercourse is just one way to “have sex” or express feelings for another person. It may not be the best choice young unmarried people can make. Serious diseases can be passed on during sexual intercourse. And there’s always the chance that the woman may get pregnant.

Some children and parents find it hard to talk about sex. If you don’t know your parents’ feelings about sex, try asking. You can talk with other people, too

The surest way to avoid pregnancy is not to have vaginal intercourse..

And the surest way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) is not to have any kind of sexual intercourse. This is called abstinence. Many people abstain from sexual intercourse until they are past their teens. Some wait until they are married. Some choose never to have sexual intercourse at all.

People who decide to have vaginal intercourse but don’t want to cause pregnancy use birth control.

Sex can be wonderful and powerful. But vaginal intercourse without birth control, even once, even the first time, can cause pregnancy.

Although many methods of birth control are almost 100 percent effective, no method is perfect. But, women and men who use birth control correctly and use it every time can worry less about unplanned pregnancy and be more confident about the plans they have for their lives. Sharing the responsibility to prevent pregnancy also allows the trust between partners to grow.

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