Thinking about sex for the first time

Thinking about sex for the first time

Thinking about having sex for the first time is a big decision.

Sometimes it seems like sex is everywhere, in songs, on TV and is all that our friends talk about!

Sometimes the pressure that other people can put on us can influence this big decision. Friends might say they've done it, a partner might want to move your relationship along and some people might even tease or bully you for being a virgin. All of these things can be tough to deal with if you're not sure if you're ready or not.

Sometimes it can help to talk through your worries or dilemmas with someone older that you trust – a big sister or brother, older cousin, your mum or dad if you feel that you can, family friends, aunties or uncles.

If you can't talk to family or friends, there are professionals that you can talk to for advice about having sex for the first time. They will be able to help you think about your relationship, contraception, show you how to use condoms properly and help you decide if now is the right time – and the right person.

The age of consent (when you can legally have sex) in this country is 16. This doesn't mean that when you turn 16 you should be having sex – in fact most people are older than 16 when they have sex for the first time – no matter what they say!

Doctors and nurses still have to keep what you tell them private (confidential) if you are under 16, unless you or somebody else is at risk of harm. This means that if you are under 16 and want to talk to a professional about having sex for the first time, getting contraception or having a check-up for Sexually Transmitted Infections they won't tell anybody (including your parents) about it if you don't want them to know. If you are unsure about confidentiality – ask.


If you think you might be ready for sex, take a minute to answer these questions. You probably won't be ready for sex until you can tick all of the boxes – and just because you can tick the boxes doesn't mean you have to have sex just yet either!

  • You feel you could say no if you wanted to – even if you have had sex before.
  • You can have fun together without anything sexual involved.
  • You each want it for yourself, not for the other person or to fit in with friends or others expectations of you.
  • Nobody is forcing you, pressuring you or coercing you.
  • You have discussed using condoms and contraception, and agree what happens next and whether or not to tell your friends afterwards as well as talking about the implications if you or your partner become pregnant.

If you have already had sex – with your current partner or someone else – it doesn't mean you have to have sex again or carry on in a sexual relationship. It is always your choice and you have a right to decide when you do or don't have sex.

Saying No

It's ok to say no to any sex that you don't want to have – even if you have had sex before, have been drinking or have got carried away and decide you want to stop!

It's not just young women that can feel pressured into sex. Just because you're a guy doesn't mean you should be expected to want sex whenever it's offered to you. You have as much right to say no to sex that you don't want as girls do.

A "NO" now could make the "YES YES YES!" all the better when the right time comes!

If somebody says no – they mean it. Sex should happen between people who trust and respect each other. If your partner doesn't want to have sex don't pressure them – be patient and understanding. There are loads of ways to show somebody that you love them without having sex – hold hands, take them out on romantic dates, cook them their favourite food – but best of all respect & understand their decision to wait before having sex if they're not ready.

Knowing how far you are prepared to go and avoiding situations where you think you might feel pressured can help you wait to have sex. Alcohol and drugs can lower your inhibitions and make you do things you wouldn't normally do. You're also less likely to effectively use condoms or contraception if you are drunk or under the influence of drugs, increasing your risks of unplanned pregnancy and catching a STI. If you are going to drink or take drugs make sure you know how far you want to go and carry condoms with you just in case.