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Fact Sheet

Thinking about having sex

8

Deciding if you're ready to have sex

Being sexual is a very personal way of communicating with someone else. It’s a physical way of expressing love and affection. Being sexual is an important personal choice and it’s not uncommon to take time to make the decision to become physically intimate with another person. It’s important to know that love doesn’t equal sex. Relationships can be happy and fun without being sexual.

Talking about sex with a person you are sexually attracted to—whether that person is a friend, acquaintance or your boyfriend or girlfriend—will help you both work out if you want to begin a sexual relationship. Talk about your expectations for the relationship, including your worries, fears, anxieties, and what you hope to get out of the experience. If it’s relevant, don’t forget to talk about contraception, like birth control and condoms.

If you decide to have sex, remember:

  • Sex must be consensual—both of you must want to engage in sex;
  • Have sex safely.

Suggestions for safe sex

It’s always important that you engage in safe sex. This means making sure you don’t risk becoming pregnant unless you want to, or catching a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or sexually transmitted disease (STD), like HIV/AIDS, herpes, Chlamydia or gonorrhea.

It’s a good idea to find out about safe sex, how different STIs are passed on and how to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Using condoms with water-based lubricants and dental dams are one way to protect yourself from some STIs. You can also get informed by:

Check out some of our other fact sheets:

Talking with your doctor or any other health professionals can help too- planned parenthood can help you plan your birth control options. Once you start having sex, make sure to get screened regular by having a gynecological exam, Learn what to expect here.

Saying no

Being in a sexual relationship can be enjoyable and rewarding when that relationship is negotiated and agreed on by both people. Sometimes people think they can demand that someone be sexual with them, or force them to have sex against their will. Remember: No one has the right to force you to have sex. You have the right to say no. Don’t let yourself be intimidated into having sex with anyone.

When can I legally have sex?

The answer to this question depends on the state in which you live. Consensual sex laws—which determine the age at which you can legally agree to have sex—vary from state to state, but for the most part require that you be at least 18 years old to consent. If you’re younger than 18, check out the laws in your state before deciding to become intimate with anyone.

Get informed!

It’s important that you think through your decision to have sex with someone. You might want to discuss it, not only with your partner, but with people whom you trust. This could include a friend, an older sibling, a counselor, a religious leader, your parents or a medical doctor. You can also find more information on your options at community health clinics or Planned Parenthood centers.

Sources and more information:

Sex, Etc.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America or call 1-800-230 PLAN

Bedsider Birth Control Support Network 

Scarleteen

Last reviewed: May 2015

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Comments

Responses

  • avatar2

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    Piggy22

    I am 14 and I don’t know if I’m ready for sex with my boyfriend or not. I don’t even know if he’s a virgin. Sometimes I feel like bringing it up and telling him I’m a virgin but I don’t want it to seem like I want to have sex because I don’t know if I want to. I don’t know if I’m good in bed. He told me he loves me and actually cares for me and I believe him. When we kiss I feel amazing but i’m scared if we have sex he might leave an I will be depressed or I might regret it. Should I wait or talk to him about it?

    • avatar1

      Reply - Quote

      ReachOut

      One way to measure your readiness for sex is check your ability to talk about sex with a potential partner.  There’s a lot to discuss in advance, such as plans for protection and pregnancy prevention, and a discussion of what you’ll do if those measures fail.  This is a pretty good sexual readiness check list, and maybe it will help you figure things out:  http://www.scarleteen.com/article/relationships/ready_or_not_the_scarleteen_sex_readiness_checklist

      Just remember—there’s definitely no hurry!
      —The ReachOut Crew

  • avatar2

    Reply - Quote

    Xelenax

    Hey everyone, iam new here. Iam just gonna start straight away. I have a boyfriend whose 20 and iam 16 ( gonna be 17 ) and we’ve been in a relationship since 4 to 5 years , we’ve been close since childhood and love eachother very much so we were planning to have sex soon and he’s totally cool with it but iam so worried , i mean im scared , not cuz of sex, but only for what might happen if we’re not safe, we’re both virgins . I don’t know what to do. Ive heard of pain and all. Btw it takes me a while to get aroused and we will use a condom but i cant buy brith control pills cuz of a reason and i was wondering if its okay to use just a condom . Iam really scared , how will it feel , what if its not what i expect, if he does it slow will he cum, and will there really be blood and how much of it, please any help will be much appreciated ...T

    • avatar1

      Reply - Quote

      ReachOut

      It’s important for you to be able to talk about these things with your boyfriend before you have sex.  Communication is so vital to good sex, and the ability to talk about it is a good indicator of whether or not you’re ready to engage in sex.  He should know that you’re concerned about it all.

      The website Scarleteen has a great page that is all about the “first time,” and has good answers to all of your questions.  You can read it by going here:  http://www.scarleteen.com/article/sexuality/first_intercourse_101

      This is also something you could talk about with your (anonymous) peer group in our forums.  To get there, just click “Forums” at the top of this page, or go to http://us.reachout.com/forums/forum.php

      Make sure you’re staying safe!
      —The ReachOut Crew

  • avatar2

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    guap

    Hello, my gf and I have been together for over a year now, we are both virgins and we are very comfortable around each other, we were thinking of finally taking it to the next step and have sex but am so nervous and as a man I feel like I won’t last long hence turning her off because she won’t have enjoyed it, I have masturbated million times before and sometimes I’d go for 20 to 30 mins other times less than a minute depending how I feel it, I don’t know if this is relevant but I’ve heard if you don’t satisfy your partner she might go look for it somewhere….. it’s scary for me to even think of it, is there a chance that my first time I might go past 5 minutes if not what should I do not to feel ashamed on it…
    thank you,

    • avatar1

      Reply - Quote

      ReachOut

      Try not to put too much emphasis on your first time together.  You’re right, the first time might not be perfect, but it probably won’t be your only time together.  Talk to your girlfriend in advance, and let her know that you’re concerned you might not last very long, and why.  Help her understand how it is for a man.  If she’s willing to be patient with you, then you can proceed to the next level, if that’s what both of you want.

      Did you know that we have forums to discuss this and anything else on your mind?  To get there, you can click the word “Forums” at the top of the page, or go here:  http://us.reachout.com/forums/forum.php

      —The ReachOut Crew

  • avatar2

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    StarLover

    One of my guy friends and I want to begin a sexual relationship… I’m a virgin and he has had sex once. We really trust one another, he’s really respectful and mature, and we both have been talking about it and have agreed to what we expect out of this experience, birth control and all of that sort… I will be going to my doctor to talk to her about my birth control options… I feel ready, a bit anxious, but mostly excited… I’m wondering though: If we both know we’re healthy and I will be on birth control, do we still have to use condoms?

    • avatar1

      Reply - Quote

      ReachOut

      It sounds like you’ve really thought this through, and planned ahead.  That’s great!  Using condoms for every sexual encounter is just a good habit and precedent to establish.  Sometimes a person thinks they’re disease-free, and they’re not, or they might not be completely honest.  You probably don’t want to gamble with your health and well-being.

      Keep being smart and safe!
      —The ReachOut Crew

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