What does Sexually Active Mean

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Defining by yourself what counts as sexually active can be a bit confusing. This article can make it a bit easier to understand.

Sexually Active Definition

Healthcare providers define “sexually active” as having sexual contact of any form with another person. Thus, even if you do not have practice intercourse per se, you can be seen as sexually active by your doctor.


Masturbation does not count as sexual activity as there is contact with another person’s genitalia or an exchange of body fluids.

Vaginal or Anal Sexual Intercourse

Intercourse is an act that involves the insertion and friction of the erected penis into the partner’s vagina or anus respectively.

There are also other forms of anal and vaginal penetration: for example, the use of toys or other objects, and fingering (manual penetrative stimulation)

Oral Sex

Oral sex implies mouth-to-genitals contact. Although it does not carry the risk of pregnancy, an STI (sexually transmitted infection) can still be a concern.

Safe sex and contraception

Safe sex is a form of sexual contact that does not involve the exchange of body fluids, such as semen, vaginal discharge, or blood, between partners. Practicing safe sex is necessary to avoid STI transmission or unwanted pregnancy.

Why do doctors ask if you are sexually active?

The reason the doctor asks this question is that they want to provide you with the best healthcare possible. And when you are sexually active you are at risk of STIs and, possibly, pregnancy. Thus, you may need additional tests, exams, and counseling.

Remember that, in most cases, there are no signs that a woman has been sexually active. The same goes for the men as well. If your doctor does not know about your sexual history, they are unable to evaluate your health, possible risks, and needed procedures correctly.

STD Testing

Unprotected sexual contact put you at risk of getting an STI. There are many infections that have no symptoms, including chlamydia and gonorrhea. And some infections, such as papillomavirus, can be transmitted very easily—even if partners are using condoms. When left unchecked, STIs can lead to pretty dire consequences, including infertility and even cancer. This is why it is very important to get tested regularly and receive timely treatment, if necessary.

Birth Control

Contraception is necessary to avoid pregnancy. Ask your doctor about your options for birth control. Those may include:

  • Barrier protection: condoms for the penis and vagina.
  • Spermicides.
  • An oral contraceptive.
  • Birth control patch.
  • Vaginal ring that has to be changed monthly.
  • Hormonal injection (repeated once in 3 months).
  • An intrauterine device or an arm implant for long-term protection.


A vaccination can protect you from an HPV (human papillomavirus) that causes warts and can lead to cancer. There are also vaccines against Hepatitis A and B that can be sexually transmitted.

Pelvic Exams And Pap Smears

Annual pelvic exams are necessary to keep the health of your reproductive organs and genitalia in check. The doctor can look for possible symptoms of a latent condition or any other abnormalities that you are unaware of.

And if you visit a gynecologist, it is recommended to get regular pap smears to catch the progress of cervical cancer in time.


Sexual activity can have many various forms and is strictly individual. You are the only person in charge of the decision on how, when, and with whom to have it. However, in order to receive proper healthcare, it is important to be open to your doctor about the topic and communicate freely.


What does it mean if you are sexually active?

It means that you have physical sexual contact of some form with another person.

Does sexually active mean virginity?

Virginity is an artificial psychological concept unrelated to integrity of a female hymen, not having a penetrative sexual act, etc. Your feelings regarding your virginity are individual and should be dictated by social stereotypes.

Does sexually active mean currently or ever?

Even if you are not having regular sexual contact as of now, your previous connections may have impacted your health, so they count as well.

How do you know if you’re ready to become sexually active?

The decision on starting your sexual life should be yours only when you feel safe, ready, and desire it.