A beginner's guide to sex

When’s the right time for your first time? The answer to that is different for everyone, but one thing’s for sure: you don’t have to rush. Sure, maybe your mate reckons they’ve already done it at least three times, but that doesn’t mean you’re playing catch-up. 

Besides, they’re probably not getting that much action anyway. Figures from relationship charity OnePlusOne reveal most young people overestimate the amount of sex their friends are actually having. Just because someone says they’re doing it doesn’t mean they actually are.

For some people, sex will happen after a couple of dates, for others, it won’t be until they’ve said their vows. Most of us fall somewhere in between the two once we have established a relationship with someone we feel intimate and comfortable enough with to take it to the next level.

Am I ready for sex?

Maybe you’ve decided you’re ready for sex or maybe you’d rather wait. Either way, if you’re in a relationship, then talk to your partner about it. Chat about how you feel and whether you are both ready as well as about practising safe sex. Sounds like an awkward conversation? It might be a bit weird at first, but if you don’t feel able to have such a conversation then it might just be a sign that you should wait a bit longer. Ultimately, only you can decide if the time is right.

Reasons why you might be ready to lose your virginity

  • You feel emotionally ready
  • You’re in a committed relationship
  • You’re curious about sex
  • You are in love
  • You think it will feel good
  • You understand how it works and are ready to practise safe sex
  • The thought of sex is exciting and interesting
  • You’re looking forward to experimenting with sex

Reasons why you might wish to wait:

  • You feel pressurised into having sex
  • You don’t feel emotionally ready
  • All your friends are doing it
  • Religious or cultural reasons
  • You’re only casually dating
  • You don’t think you’ve found the right person
  • The thought of sex makes you feel anxious not excited
  • You don’t want to look immature
  • Your partner tells you, “If you loved me you would”
Condom

What can I expect?

There are plenty of myths surrounding first-time sex and it is important to know the facts before you go for it. 

Myth One – The first time will be perfect

Television and films have a lot to answer for, creating romantic scenes of candle-strewn rooms, soft satin sheets, lilting music and a memorable experience that will last a lifetime. In reality though, not everyone’s experiences are so great. Some people will find sex fun and comfortable from the off, for others it might be awkward. Don’t be embarrassed if it does seem a bit weird, especially afterwards. It’s good to talk it through with your partner and explore your feelings so the next time round it is better.

Myth Two – First time sex hurts

For some, sex will be pleasurable straight away, for others it might be a little uncomfortable or even painful, particularly for women, though this shouldn’t last long. If you do find it is painful it might be because you are nervous so try to relax, or you may need more lubrication. Make sure you are in an environment where you feel comfortable as well. If it’s still hurting, stop and talk to your partner. Pain during sex shouldn’t last and you may need to try a different position, ask your partner to take a break or get them to go slower.

Myth Three – You can’t get pregnant or an STI on your first time

It’s a common but dangerous myth that you can’t get pregnant or catch an STI the first time you have sex. You can, so it’s important to protect yourself during sex. The contraceptive pill, IUD, implants or injection will all protect you against pregnancy. They won’t however, protect you from STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, herpes or HIV.

Condoms will help protect you from STIs as well as pregnancy and won’t diminish the enjoyment you get from sex so the safest thing is to use one.

How will it change my relationship?

If you’re in a committed relationship, sex can add a new dimension to it, both physically and emotionally. Not only does it give you a physical sense of satisfaction and wellbeing, it can also increase the intimacy between you and your partner.

It may also stir up a whole host of emotions. It’s perfectly normal to experience unexpected emotions, such as guilt or worry. Losing your virginity is a big change and one which might take some time to adjust to. If you feel like this, talking to your partner can help. If not your partner, then close family or friends can offer you reassurance too.