Deciding when to lose your virginity
It seems like everyone talks about sex. Your friends, TV show characters, magazines, movies and maybe even your family. Sometimes it’s hard to work out what’s true, or what information you need to make a decision about becoming sexually active for the first time.
It’s normal to feel excited or anxious when thinking about losing your virginity. Just remember that there’s no right or wrong time to become sexually active—it varies for each person. It might take time to decide what’s right for you.
Being sexually active can mean different things to different people, and can include different activities with partners that are the opposite sex, the same sex, or both. Sex is about giving and receiving pleasure in a way that is comfortable for both people.
Am I ready for sex?
You might choose to become sexually active for a variety of reasons. You might:
- Think it could be fun;
- Feel like you’re in love;
- Think it feels good;
- Take it as a sign of commitment;
- Feel emotionally ready;
- Feel informed, and like you’ve thought it through;
- Feel prepared and ready to practice safe sex;
- Be curious and want to experiment;
- Think all your friends are doing it.
There might be several reasons why you choose not to have sex. You might:
- Not feel ready or comfortable yet;
- Not think you’ve found the right person;
- Have religious or cultural reasons;
- Feel more anxious than excited;
- Not have condoms or dams on hand to practice safe sex;
- Not want to respond to pressure from your friends or partner;
- Be too young legally. Check out the laws on age of consent in your state for more info;
- Feel you don’t have to prove yourself by having sex.
It’s really important that you feel like you’re able to talk to your partner about how you feel and any worries you have about having sex and using contraception. It can be weird and embarrassing to have this sort of conversation, but if you’re not comfortable enough to talk about it, then maybe you aren’t ready to have sex.
Some facts and myths about your first time
You might have a lot of questions about what your first time will be like. It’s not always easy to find the answers you need. Here are some common myths that people believe about sex—and the facts.
MYTH: You can’t get pregnant or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) the first time.
FACT: Yes you can! When thinking about being sexually active, you need to consider protecting yourself against pregnancy and STDs by practicing safe sex. Using protection like condoms and dams will not necessarily make sex less enjoyable. The important thing is to be safe. To find out more about practicing safer sex, check out the fact sheets on Condoms and Emergency contraception.
MYTH: First time sex will hurt.
FACT: For some people, the first time can be pleasurable, comfortable and fun. For others, first-time sex does feel uncomfortable—it could even hurt. Pain during sex could mean you don’t have enough lubrication or need to try a different position. It could also mean your partner is going too fast or using too much pressure, or that you’re nervous. It could be a combination of all of these. If it’s hurting, stop and talk to your partner. Try some more lubrication or a different position, or ask your partner to go slowly. If it’s still hurting, stop. Sex shouldn’t be painful. It’s important to talk to your partner about these issues and work out ways to make sex more comfortable.
Sometimes there might be some bleeding for girls during their first time. This shouldn’t last long. If pain or bleeding continues, it’s important to talk to a doctor or nurse.
MYTH: The first time will be perfect.
FACT: TV and movies often glamorize the first time, which might give you unrealistic expectations about what it’s really like. It’s O.K. if your first time isn’t perfect. It’s not uncommon to feel awkward or self-conscious about your body or sex. And sometimes unexpected things happen when having sex for the first time, so it’s good to feel comfortable enough to talk about it with your partner.
What happens after I have sex?
After you have sex, especially if it’s your first time, you might experience a whole lot of emotional stuff—some good and some confusing. For example, you might feel worried or guilty, or sex could enhance your feelings of affection for your partner. If you’re having trouble dealing with these issues yourself, you might want to talk with your partner, or with other people you can trust, like friends, family members or a counselor or other mental health professional.
For more information on this topic see “Am I Ready for Sex," from Avert, an international AIDS charity.