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What is sex?

a couple with their arms around each other

It might seem like a stupid question but it's not. Sex means different things to different people. There's a huge range of sexual things that you can do - so there's no straightforward answer to that question.

Thinking about sex

Having sex is something both young men and women get interested in as they become more mature and start thinking about having relationships.

Thinking about having sex is completely normal. There is no need to rush into having sex if you don’t feel comfortable as you will have plenty of time to do it in the future when you do feel ready.

Getting it 'right'

There is no 'right' or 'wrong' way to have sex.

Sex is about you and your partner enjoying yourselves and if you're doing something legal and consensual then it's no one else’s business but your own.

What matters is that it feels right for you and your partner. Above all sex should be fun, safe and with someone you feel comfortable with.

Making it safe

One thing which you do need to take seriously when having sex is protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, and unplanned pregnancy.

Condoms are the only form of contraception that protect against all of these, and so it is always sensible to use them if you or your partner have not had a sexual health check-up.

There are also other methods of contraception that you can use to protect against pregnancy - some people like to use one of these methods with condoms for extra protection.

Read more in our section on safe sex ››

Talking about it

Knowing about contraception is not enough though - it is also important to talk to your sexual partner about contraception and make sure both of you take responsibility for your own sexual health.

It can feel embarrassing to talk about contraception, but having a conversation about it before sex is better than telling someone about pregnancy or an STI after sex!

If you can’t have an open conversation with someone about these important issues, then maybe you shouldn’t have sex with them.

If you aren’t sure how you feel about sex, want some help making decisions or have any questions, you can talk to someone on THT Direct - our confidential helpline on 0808 802 1221.

Ready for sex? ››

‹‹ Masturbation

 

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The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 1/12/2015 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 1/12/2018

Content Author: Alison MacBeth

Current Owner: Health Promotion

More information:

Condoms. NHS Choices. 2015

HIV and AIDS - Introduction. NHS Choices. 2014

What is contraception? NHS Choices. 2014

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