Sexual intercourse is sex with penetration of the vagina or anus by a hard penis.

Penetration of the vagina

A man who is aroused can get an erection. The penis swells with blood. It gets bigger and harder and it rises up.

A woman who is aroused gets a wet vagina. This helps the penis to enter the vagina.

The woman can get pregnant only if:

If you do not have a desire to have children at the moment, use contraception.

Man and woman having sexual intercourse. The focus is on the penis penetrating the vagina.
Man and woman having sexual intercourse. The focus is on the penis penetrating the vagina.
Detail of the penis inside the vagina seen from the inside.
Detail of the penis inside the vagina seen from the inside.
Detail of the penis inside the vagina seen from the inside. Semen is leaving the penis and entering the uterus.
Detail of the penis inside the vagina seen from the inside. Semen is leaving the penis and entering the uterus.

Penetration of the anus

A man and a woman, or 2 men, can have sex with penetration of the anus.

A woman cannot get pregnant through penetration of the anus. However, make sure that semen does not enter the vagina.

Sexual intercourse example: 2 men lying on their sides. One is lying behind the other.

Reasons for sexual intercourse

You can have sexual intercourse for different reasons, for example because you want to:

  • have children (only through penetration of the vagina);
  • experience sexual pleasure;
  • express love and other emotions;
  • experience intimacy;
  • relax.

Sexual intercourse during the menstrual period

Some women want to have sexual intercourse during their menstrual period, others do not. A woman can have sexual intercourse during her menstrual period if she wants to. It will not lead to hygiene problems.

Variation

You do not need to have an orgasm each time you have sex. Many people do not always have an orgasm.

You can have sexual intercourse in various positions: lying, sitting, standing or crouching.
There are other ways of having sex, besides sexual intercourse.

Talk with your partner about your desires and feelings. Together you can decide what is good sex for both of you.

Sexual intercourse example 1: The man lies on top of woman. The woman spreads her legs.
Sexual intercourse example 1: The man lies on top of woman. The woman spreads her legs.
Sexual intercourse example 2: The woman is on her hand and knees. The man sits on his knees behind her.
Sexual intercourse example 2: The woman is on her hand and knees. The man sits on his knees behind her.
Sexual intercourse example 3: The man stands. The woman stands against him. The man holds one of her legs up.
Sexual intercourse example 3: The man stands. The woman stands against him. The man holds one of her legs up.
Sexual intercourse example 4: The man and woman lie on their sides, the man is behind the woman.
Sexual intercourse example 4: The man and woman lie on their sides, the man is behind the woman.
Sexual intercourse example 5: The woman sits on top of the man.
Sexual intercourse example 5: The woman sits on top of the man.

Protection against STIs and HIV

You can get STIs and HIV from sexual intercourse. You can use a condom to protect yourself and your partner.

A condom

More information or help needed?

Family doctor
You can talk to a family doctor about almost every intimate issue. If necessary the family doctor can refer you to a specialised health professional. Find a family doctor in your neighbourhood:
Wijkgezondheidscentrum
You can visit a family doctor in a community health centre. Other care professionals such as nurses and social workers also work at community health centres. Care is provided free of charge. Find a community health centre in your neighbourhood:
CAW - Centrum Algemeen Welzijn
Centre for general well-being - Help with all kinds of issues: a difficult relationship, medical, financial, administrative, legal or material problems, family problems,... CAWs also provide assistance to victims of violence and abuse. Find a CAW in your neighbourhood:
More health professionals

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