What does the S word mean?

Mum or dad what is sex? Have you ever wondered how you would answer this question if your child asked you? Or have they already? Even though you don’t have to have all the answers and it’s definitely not for a once only conversation …where would you start?

Well first of all we need to know what sex means to us, before we even talk about sex with our kids. It’s really important that we understand that sex is not just sexual intercourse. It’s so much more.

One dictionary defines sex as:

1. The sum of the characteristics that distinguish organisms on the basis of their reproductive function

2. Sex is short for sexual intercourse

So that's it? Is it as simple as that? In my quest for the right definition I asked ‘google’ which as you can imagine had hundreds of very interesting answers.

Sex can mean different things to different people. There is not one universal definition of sex, but a variety of perspectives.

Regardless of your beliefs, faith, values or morals, sex encompasses a huge part of our lives, we are born as sexual beings. Sex is social, personal, physical emotional and spiritual.

It’s also about bodies, reproduction, puberty, gender diversity, sexual orientation, love, closeness, identity, choices, consent, respect, discipline, responsibility, safety, authenticity, attraction, sexual feelings, pleasure, sexual expression, personal values, choices, pregnancy, relationships, beliefs, faith, foreplay, morals, attitudes, behaviour, STIs, body image, abuse, IVF, and more.

It’s about caring for, respecting and enjoying yourself, your body, and others. It can be a source of deep joy but it can also be one of great hardship and destruction in lots of different parts of our lives.


Often society and the media makes sex all about pleasure and body parts with little or no consequences. This means it’s more important than ever that your kids know what it is and what it means to you. But just as the definition of sex can be long and complicated so can the answer…

So, if your child asks you, “What is sex?” What will you say?