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Ready for sex?

An African couple

When you get together with somebody you'll often start out by kissing, then move onto more intimate activities over time.

Foreplay and beyond

Foreplay is the word we use to describe the kissing and sexual touching in the lead up to having penetrative sex. It can involve all kinds of sexual contact.

Foreplay is a really good way of getting to know each other’s likes and dislikes, and is a big part of getting 'in the mood' physically and emotionally.

It can also be about building trust with your partner.

Foreplay can cause you to feel sexually aroused. This will manifest differently in boys and girls:

  • Boys will get an erection when they're aroused. This means their penis will get hard.
  • For girls it's a bit different - their vagina will feel wet.

When we get aroused sexually it's often very difficult not to move onto having penetrative sex - all kinds of reactions in your body have been set in motion and sometimes they are hard to resist. But it might be better to make the choice to have sex when you’re ready rather than just letting it happen in the moment.

Deciding to have sex can be a really big decision and it is important that you don’t feel rushed into things before you feel completely ready.

Waiting is nothing to be ashamed of and it's not always such a great thing to lose your virginity as soon as possible. Remember, it is your body and your life and you should not feel pressured into doing anything you don’t want to do.


Peer pressure

Often it can feel like everyone else around you is having sex, which can make you feel like you should be doing it too.

Some people boast about their sexual exploits and it might be the case that you feel that you need to lose your virginity as soon as possible to keep up with your friends.

All this talk about sex is often just that though - talk. A lot of people feel that peer pressure and exaggerate their sex lives.

Remember that there is a big difference between talking about having sex and actually having sex, and that most young people don’t have sex for the first time until they are 16 or older.


'If you loved me...'

Often it is not our friends who pressure us into having sex, but our boyfriend or girlfriend.

It's important to realise that if you don’t want to have sex, you don’t have to justify your decision - it is your body and it’s up to you when you have sex.

Not having sex before you are ready does not mean that you are selfish, or that you don’t love or care for your boyfriend or girlfriend, but it does show that you are confident about what is right for you.

If your partner cares about you and your feelings then they will respect your decision and not try to make you do something you feel uncomfortable with.


First time

If you do want to have sex and are exploring taking things further in your relationship, that’s fine too.

What’s important is that you know how to protect yourself, or your partner, from unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections - including HIV - and that you are able to talk to your partner about having safer sex.


What will it be like?

Having sex for the first time can be a bit scary, but remember: it’s normal to feel nervous and unsure of what you are doing - after all it’s something that you have never done before!

Your first sexual experience can often be a disappointing one if it's rushed into.

It might be more rewarding to build up to it with someone you trust and like. After all you're only going to lose your virginity once - so you might want to make it a happy memory.

First time sex is unlikely to be perfect, so try to relax and have a sense of humour.


Does it hurt?

For women, having vaginal sex for the first time may be slightly painful and it is likely that they will bleed a little.

This is because having vaginal sex for the first time may stretch or tear the hymen, the piece of skin (or membrane) across the entrance to the vagina. This may not happen, however, as the hymen can also be broken in other ways, for example when using a tampon.

Sex is likely to be more pleasurable and comfortable if you:

  • take your time
  • relax
  • make sure that there is plenty of lubrication.

For men or women, having anal sex for the first time may be painful, and it is not unusual to bleed a little.

If you are going to have anal sex, take your time and use plenty of lubrication.

Some people find that being penetrated with fingers at first helps.


Not sure you're ready for sex?

If you’re not sure if you’re ready for sex, want help making a decision or feel like someone is pressuring you, you can talk to someone about how you’re feeling by calling our confidential helpline THT Direct on 0808 802 1221.


Sexual acts ››

‹‹ What is sex?

 

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The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 27/1/2016 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 27/1/2019

Content Author: Allison Macbeth, Kerri Virani

Current Owner: Health Promotion

More information:

Are you ready for sex?, NHS Choices, 26/10/15

Is sex painful the first time?, NHS Choices, 30/3/15

Sexual arousal in men, NHS Choices, 5/6/14

Sexual arousal in women, NHS Choices, 2/6/14

Are you ready for sex?, Brook, June 2015. (Content reproduced with kind permission from University College London's Sexunzipped website.)

Having sex for the first time, Brook

Foreplay – what’s in it for men?, Clint Witchalls, 23/4/14, Boots – Web MD, Men’s Health centre

What is foreplay, Scarleteen, 29/1/14

NHS. Ready to go all the way? 2010 

Brook. http://www.brook.org.uk/sex-and-relationships/sex/ready-for-sex

BBC Third 'have sex below legal age', 2006

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