Warning: If you are not a parent, if you are a male who experiences SSA (read "gay"), if you are uncomfortable talking about sex (especially from a female perspective), my advice is to walk away from this post. There is a possibility that it will not make you happy.
Tabitha and I had the opportunity Tuesday night, to spend a night alone. We booked a hotel room in Utah, and stayed up reading Harry Potter and talking. I've never spent a night with just Tabitha before. We had a very interesting conversation:
Me: This is fun. We've never had a night to ourselves.
Tabitha: No. And actually, I wanted to ask some questions that I've been embarrassed to ask with the boys around.
Me: Ask away.
Tabitha: It's about sex. Is that okay?
Me: Yes. What can I tell you?
Tabitha: Well, I'm confused about how it can happen. I don't understand.
Me: Why don't you tell me the things you do understand, and we'll go from there.
Tabitha: Okay. We've talked about body parts. I understand that the man's penis goes into a woman's vagina. But Mom, I've changed my cousins' diapers. Everything is floppy. How does it happen? And why do people like it?
Me: Let's start with the second question, and I think it will answer the first. How much do you know about your genitals?
Tabitha: Not very much.
Me: Okay, so let's talk about that. I wish we had pictures!
Tabitha: (giggling) Mom!
Me: Sorry. It would make everything easier to visualize, though. Anyway, you know where your vagina is, right?
Tabitha: I think so.
Me: Its the opening between your legs that's about the same diameter as your index finger.
Tabitha: Yes. Mom, how do people wear tampons? It seems like that would hurt.
Me: Not everyone finds that comfortable. Some people have smaller vaginal openings than others.
Tabitha: Do you wear tampons?
Me: No, I've never been able to do that.
Tabitha: So I don't have to?
Me: Nope. Do you have anymore questions about that?
Tabitha: No. Go on.
Me: Well, just in front of your vagina is your urethra--the place you pee. Both of these openings are enclosed by folds of skin made of tissue similar to the inside of your mouth, called labia. These folds of skin protect the vagina and urethra, and are also filled with nerve endings that are sensitive to touch. At the top of your genitals is a small, firm spot called the clitoris. This, too, has many nerve endings that feel nice when they are touched. People like to have sex because it feels good. Does that make sense?
Tabitha: Yep. So, tell me the rest.
Me: All right, now let's talk about boys' genitals.
Tabitha: Okay. Because that's what I'm confused about.
Me: Right. You know what a penis is. Behind the penis is the scrotum which holds the testes, which produce sperm. When boys become mature, their penises become larger and longer. The penis has something called erectile tissue in it. When a man becomes aroused, meaning he feels like he wants to have sex, that tissue fills with blood and the penis becomes larger and firmer. That allows him to insert it into a woman's vagina.
Tabitha: Because it's not floppy anymore.
Tabitha: And the parts of us that like to be touched, men have that too?
Me: They do. Sex feels good to them, as well. Tabitha, sex is really a good thing. The reason we tell you to be careful only to experience it with your husband is because during sex there are lots of hormones, special chemicals, released by the body that cause people to feel bonded to each other. This is especially strong for women. Imagine, if you feel very close to someone, you feel he belongs to you (which is what bonding does), and he leaves. Can you see how that would be harmful to you, emotionally?
Tabitha: Yeah. So it's not just about diseases?
Me: No. That's part of it, of course. But mostly, we advise you to be very careful with sexual emotions and touching because it places you in a position where you can be easily hurt. You want to be as certain as possible that you are with a safe person who loves you and will stay with you throughout your life before you have sex with him. That's why we tell you to be married first, and to be very choosy about the person whom you marry. Once you've made sure that the relationship is secure, safe, and long-lasting, then you should have sex as often as you and your husband would like to.
Tabitha: You said you and dad have sex because it helps you stay close to each other, it helps you express love in a way that only you two share.
Tabitha: I like that.
Me: Me too.
Tabitha: Do you think that's why Heavenly Father says don't have sex or do sexual things before you're married? He knows about those hormone things and he doesn't want us to get hurt?
Me: I think so, yes.
Tabitha: Okay. We should go to sleep.
Me: I agree.
Tabitha: I love you, Mom.
Me: I love you, too, Tabitha.