Deciding when to have sex for the first time is something you have to do for yourself. This can be whether you’re in a committed relationship or looking for something more casual.
But how do you know you’re ready? Just because your friends are sexually active doesn’t mean it’s the right time for you, and likewise, even if your friends decide to wait, you can feel differently. It’s an individual choice, but asking yourself some important questions first can help you feel secure about making it.
Do you know what consent means?
Never have sex because you think you should. If you decide to take the step with someone, do it because you both want to. Check out consent and sex for more on the age of consent.
Have you talked about it?
It’s easy to gossip about sex with your friends, but it’s more important you’re able to discuss it with the person you’re thinking of sleeping with. That way you know for sure if they’re interested, and if both of you are on the same page when it comes to contraception.
Have you looked into contraception?
Before you have sex with someone, sort yourself out with some contraception. An unwanted pregnancy is a worry, but so is the possibility of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). There are different methods but remember only condoms prevent pregnancy and the spread of STIs. Check out contraception for more info on different methods.
Are you carrying condoms?
It’s good to be prepared, even if you haven’t had sex yet. Don’t worry about looking like you’re desperate for sex, having a condom with you shows you’re thinking about your own health and the health of anyone you might end up in bed with.
What about your feelings?
When we have sex, it’s not just our bodies but our minds that are affected. Whether you’re in a long-term relationship or not, sex is the most intimate physical act you can experience with another person.
So before you do it, examine your own feelings about the person you want to sleep with. Are both of you interested in sex for the same reasons? Is it more about love and romance for one of you and more about the sexual urge for the other? It sounds a bit formal but if you negotiate boundaries and expectations before you have sex, it’ll lessen the chances of someone being disappointed afterwards.
Are you open to getting advice?
There are a lot of myths floating around about sex, and separating fact from fiction can be difficult. If you’re thinking about having sex for the first time you’ll have questions that need to be answered. Discuss them with the person you’re planning to have sex with if you can, but until you have your answers, hold off on taking the step. Talk to someone you trust. You’ll probably enjoy sex more if you’re fully informed and feel like you’re ready.
Myths about first time sex
Myth 1: You can’t get pregnant or catch an STI the first time you have sex
Fact: Not true. Every time you have sex you’re at risk of catching an STI or getting pregnant, unless you use a condom. Find out more about contraception, or call into your nearest sexual health clinic.
You can find a list of sexual health clinics around the country on the Think Contraceptionwebsite.
Myth 2: First time sex always hurts
Fact: Not always. Sometimes first time sex is pleasurable and fun. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, even painful. Try using lubrication, or asking the person you’re with to slow down if it’s uncomfortable. If it’s hurting a lot, stop. It shouldn’t be too painful. It’s important to talk to your partner about these issues and work out ways to make sex more comfortable. Sometimes when girls have sex for the first time there might be some bleeding. It happens when a ring of tissue called the hymen, located along the entrance to the vagina, breaks. It shouldn’t last long and is perfectly natural. If pain or bleeding continues, it’s important to talk to a health practitioner.
Myth 3: The first time will be perfect
Fact: It probably won’t. TV and movies often glamorise the first time, which gives unrealistic expectations about what it’s really like. It’s ok if the first time isn’t perfect. It’s natural to feel self-conscious about your body. And sometimes unexpected things happen when having first time sex, so it’s good to feel comfortable enough to talk about it, before and after.
Advice for guys
Lots of advice about first time sex is geared towards girls, because there can be more physical pain involved for them, and a risk of pregnancy. It tends to be assumed that guys are always eager to have sex, girls less so.
But this is often not the case, and a lot of times guys feel pressured to want sex. In fact, guys can feel just as nervous about having sex for the first time as girls and can have a million worries, from premature ejaculation, to penis-size, to whether he can satisfy the girl or guy he’s with sexually. Guys may not feel ready for sex at all, but can feel weird about admitting this to others, as though it makes them less of a man.
Tips for guys to remember when thinking about having sex for the first time:
Don’t do it just because your friends are
Most girls will be more attracted to a guy who waits for the right person to come along, rather than sleeping with the first person they can get into bed. Wait if you want to.
Don’t worry about the size of your penis
You’ll find that nobody cares about this except you. What’s far more important is to be considerate of the needs of the person you’re having sex with – listen to them, respect them and try to focus on giving them pleasure. Size is immaterial.
Don’t stress about performance problems
Many guys worry about premature ejaculation before having sex for the first time. It can be a common problem, but it’s important to relax before having sex and not worry about problems ahead of time. If you experience premature ejaculation issues, check out sex with a new partner for more information.
Often when we fantasise about having sex, we think about it as it looks in the movies. Hollywood sex always takes place in a romantic setting, with soft lighting and sexy music. Sex in reality won’t be as picture-perfect as that, but that’s ok. Let’s face it, most guys and girls look at porn. Porn movies make sex look exotic and adventurous, and the actors are all portrayed as willing to do anything. But most men and women don’t look like porn stars and real-life sex can turn out completely different from what we see on the screen. Understand that sex with someone you care about is different from the stimulation you get from watching porn. The guy or girl you’re with won’t necessarily want to act like they’re a porn star either, and that should be ok with you.
Having sex can be very enjoyable and rewarding when it’s agreed on by both people involved. But feeling pressured isn’t a good reason to have sex, even if you really want the other person to like you, or to go out with you.
You might hear that other people you both know are sexually active, and feel that it’s now expected of you. It’s never ok to pressure someone into having sex, and you should never feel bad about saying no. Don’t let yourself be intimidated into having sex with anyone, just explain you’re not ready. If the other person respects you, they’ll wait until you are, which mightn’t be for a long time. If they keep asking, maybe it’s time to consider if this relationship is for you.
After you have sex for the first time, you might experience a whole range of emotions – some good, some confusing. You can feel worried or guilty, or can begin feeling more romantic about the other person. If you’re having trouble dealing with this yourself, you should talk to the person involved, and with other people you can trust, like friends, family members or a counsellor.
This content was adapted from ReachOut.com