Sex Marks the Spot: definitions, genitalia, frequency


Q: How can you identify if you’ve ever had sex? What counts?

A: The short answer is that sex can mean many different things to many different people. There’s not one universal definition of sex but a variety of perspectives. Sex has a history of being defined somewhat narrowly, centering on traditional cultural and religious norms and heterosexual practices. Some may initially learn to define sex strictly as vaginal and penile intercourse. A more inclusive definition could describe lots of different activities performed by people with a diversity of gender identities and sexual orientations, with any number of partners. Under this definition, any act involving contact with the vulva, clitoris, vagina, anus, penis or testicles between one or more consenting people for the purpose of sexual pleasure could constitute sex. Genital to-genital, mouth-to-genital, mouth-to-anal, hand-to-genital, anal-to-genital, toy-to-genita, etc. This definition can also encompass phone sex, masturbation, and genital contact through clothes. There are lots of ways to have sex and the most necessary characteristic of sex is the presence of consent. Consent means “knowing, voluntary, and clear permission by word or action to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity or contact.” Consent is a necessary component for all sexual activities! More info can be found on Trinity’s sexual assault webpage.


Q: What health resources exist for folks with ambiguous genitalia?

A: Someone with ambiguous genitalia aka intersex, bi-gender, etc. could have external genitalia that are inexact or their genitalia might be different from their genetic sex. They could have female genitalia on the outside but be genetically male, they may have both testes and ovaries, or they may have some other combination where the lines between male and female organs are blurred. Accord Alliance and Campus Pride are online resources that include research and events. On campus, Richard Reams is a mental health counselor who is supportive and knowledgeable in this area, and Trinity PRIDE is an inclusive student organization. Lastly, has a helpful article for how and when to tell a partner.


Q: How much sex can I have?

A: A magic number doesn’t answer the question, “How much sex is too much?”, nor does a national average. Generally speaking, each individual will need to talk with their partner about frequency of sex. Unless your sexual behavior is interfering with your daily routine (work, friends, sleep), it is likely that you and your partner have high sex drives and enjoy having sex together during this time period. If it does interfere with your daily routine, then you may want to speak to a counselor about sexual compulsion, which may include frequency of sex, a wide number of partners, or even excessive masturbation, which could be self-destructive. On the other end of the spectrum, while it may seem that many college students are having sex, the research shows that many are not. The 2013 American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II survey reported that many 30 percent of undergraduates didn’t have any sexual partners during the previous year, and over half of those who are having sex didn’t have oral or vaginal sex in the last 30 days. Also, among undergraduates having sex, most only had one sexual partner in the past year.