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Sexual health Postponing sex

Words Can Workoffers these questions from Dr. Paula Rauch, a child psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital, to help young people make good choices.

If you're considering having sex, you can consider these questions:

• “What do you think your girlfriend will say to her friends if you've had sex with her?”

• “How do you think you will feel the next day, or the next week, when you see her?”

• “When you're thinking about being physically intimate with someone, ask yourself whether you'd trust her to keep your most personal secret. If not, are you sure you trust her enough to have sex?”

When James left for college, his mother had a few parting words about sex.

“You'll feel great desire for some of the young women you meet,” Sara said. “I hope you'll remember things we talked about. Especially this: When someone says no, they mean no. Always show respect.”

James understood. “It's the way to make sure you both want the same thing,” he says. And Mark reminded his son, “If you are going to have sex, make sure you use a condom.”

James has found other ways to be close. “As long as the girl and the guy talk about it and agree,” James says, “there are lots of ways to feel good, to be intimate, and make your partner feel good without intercourse. That's where I am right now about sex.”

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