When you go for a doctor’s visit, there can be some embarrassing questions you have to answer. These are meant to evaluate your general health and one of them may leave you slightly confused. This is when you are asked if you are sexually active. You may be afraid to ask, “What does sexually active mean?” Does it mean “heavy petting?” Does it include oral sex? What about masturbation? If you are looking for sexually active definition, this article will help explain what that means, so you will understand better how to answer this question.
Sexually Active Definition
When you visit your doctor and they ask if you are “sexually active”, they are really talking about if you have had sex with another person to check if you are at risk for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD). They also need to know if there is a chance you might be pregnant. Being sexually active usually involves at least another person besides yourself. Masturbation or use of sex toys when you are alone, usually do not pose a health risk.
If you do have sex with another person or multiple people, you are at risk for an STD but it depends on the type of sexual activity. What the doctor is looking for is if you might need certain testing such as: STD screening, a pregnancy test, or if any medication would put a pregnancy at risk.
The best way to know if you need any type of testing or not is to understand the sexually active definition completely. This means you need to know each type of sexual act with another person and if it puts you at risk for an STD or pregnancy. These sexual activities which are considered sexually active are explained as follows:
When someone places their ungloved finger in your vagina or you place your ungloved hand on a penis, you could still be at a slight risk for STD’s. This can happen if there is transfer of body fluids from one to the other. It is less likely, but can happen. If you have touched the exposed genitals and body fluids of another person, you have been sexually active. It is just not intercourse.
Vaginal or Anal Sexual Intercourse
This means you are sexually active because another person’s genital area has come in contact with your genital area with direct transfer of body fluids. The risks associated with genitals touching and body fluid contact are:
- Bacterial Vaginosis
- HPV (Human Papilloma Virus/Genital Warts)
During oral sex, your saliva and mucous membranes (tongue, gums, cheeks) that have access to your blood stream come in contact with body fluids and mucous membranes in the genital area. This can transfer sexually transmitted disease such as:
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
- Herpes Simplex
Even if you wear underwear, there is a small chance of body fluid transfer through underwear. There is still a slight risk of catching things like Scabies, pubic lice, herpes, and HPV/Warts.
If your doctor asks you if you are sexually active, make sure you let them know whether you have or have not had actual intercourse or if you are at any risk for sexually transmitted diseases. Knowing the risks with the above “sexually active definition” descriptions, you don’t need to describe your activities in detail and will know how to answer.
What About the Time Between Sexual Encounters?
If you are asked if you are sexually active, but haven’t had sex in a year this may be confusing for you to answer. If you have ever engaged in the above activities there are a few answers you can give your doctor:
Sexually Active Recently – “Yes, I am sexually active, but I don’t have full intercourse.” Or “Yes, I am fully sexually active.”
Had Sex A Year Ago – “No, I am not currently sexually active but had sex a year ago.”
Does Being Sexually Active Mean I’m Not a Virgin?
If you don’t quite understand the sexually active definition and how it relates to “virginity” then you need to understand that being a “virgin” doesn’t mean a whole lot if you are engaging in risky behavior that involves the transfer of two people’s body fluids.
To clarify, some girls have not had vaginal sex yet but they might have allowed their partner to penetrate them anally. This involves transfer of body fluids, just in a different place and is considered a type of sexual intercourse. What this means is if you tell your doctor that you are still a virgin, but have had experiences where your body fluids and someone else’s body fluids mixed then you are in fact sexually active.
One way to explain this without getting into details is when you are asked if you are “sexually active” you can just tell the doctor yes, but without full intercourse. The doctor will then have the information needed to decide if you need a visual exam of your genitals, a pelvic exam, Pap smear, and other lab testing for infections. If you have not had intercourse with a male, then they won’t test you for pregnancy. But it is still important to give your doctor the needed information to protect your health.
Experiences of Others: What to Tell the Doctor
Here are a few different scenarios to help you know what to tell your doctor about being sexually active:
Question: “My boyfriend and I are waiting to have sexual intercourse. We still play around a lot and sometimes his penis touches just the outside of my vagina. One time, he started leaking into me. I got scared I might get pregnant, but not sure what to do.”
Answer: There is a slight risk of pregnancy when this happens and risk of catching an STD. You will answer “Yes” if your doctor asks if you are sexually active.
Question: “I’m not completely sure of the sexually active definition. I use my finger on myself and have never been touched down there by another person. Do I have to tell my doctor?”
Answer: If you have never had your genitals touched by another person, or your genitals have never come in “skin-to-skin” contact with another person’s genitals you would answer “No” when asked if you are sexually active.