First Time Sex
September 24, 2019

10 Things To Consider Before Having Sex For The First Time

Anticipating your first time having sex can be exciting but you may also have a few butterflies in your stomach! Prepare for your first time with these top 10 tips.
Written by
Cassandra Corrado
Published on
September 24, 2019
Updated on
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Having sex for the first time can be a fantastic experience, and preparing for it can make it even better. Here are the top 10 things you should think about before you have sex for the first time ever — or before you have sex with a new partner for the first time. 

1. What Does Sex Mean To You?

You might have a particular act in mind when you think of sex, but does your potential partner share that definition? Be specific here — are you thinking about oral sex? Vaginal? Anal? Fingering? It may feel awkward to get down to details here, but it will help get through one of the biggest sexual communication hurdles and set you up to answer some of the next questions.

2. Which Barriers Do You Want To Use?

Barrier methods are sexual protection tools that work by creating a thin, physical barrier between skin and fluids — and they serve many different purposes, sex acts, and genders. They protect against sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) and they can also work to prevent pregnancy. 

Regardless of your gender or the gender of the person you’d like to have sex with, barrier methods can be a handy safety tool. 


There are two types of condoms — external (what you usually think of as a condom) and internal (one that is inserted into the vagina or anus). They come in a variety of materials, including latex, nitrile, and polyurethane. Latex is the most common, with nitrile and polyurethane trailing close behind for people with latex allergies or sensitivities. 

Dental Dams

You might be interested in using dental dams to cover up a vulva or an anus during oral sex. Dental dams can be a bit tough to get ahold of, so in a pinch, plastic wrap will also work for this type of oral sex protection.

Lube is a fantastic tool for sex — it reduces the risk of skin tears and increases pleasure.


If you’re touching your partner with a glove on your hand you can just pull off the glove and your hand is clean to touch your own body. Voila! Gloves can also cover cuts on the fingers and hands. Powder-free gloves make for easy clean-up and can help reduce the risk of bacterial infections, particularly for folks with vaginas who are prone to infections. 

3. Buy A Good Lube 

You might think of lube as something that people only need to use if they have trouble producing enough of their own wetness, but that’s not true. Lube is a fantastic tool for sex — it reduces the risk of skin tears and increases pleasure. Yes, even if you naturally get wet easily.

There are many different types of lube, including water- and silicone-based, hybrid (a combination of the two), and oil-based.

Oil-based lubricants — including coconut oil — will cause latex barriers (like condoms) to break. So, don’t combine the two.

In general, look for a lubricant that is glycerin, paraben, and propylene glycol-free, especially if you have sensitive skin or allergies. Brands like Sliquid, Good Clean Love, and Uberlube are winners. 

4. Consider Birth Control

If it’s possible for you or your partner to get pregnant from having sex with each other (ie: one of you has a vagina and the other has a penis), you may want to consider a form of birth control. Birth control works by preventing pregnancy from ever happening in the first place. 

There is hormonal birth control, like the pill, patch, Nuvaring, and some forms of the IUD. There are also non-hormonal forms of birth control, like condoms, spermicide, and the copper IUD.

There are benefits and drawbacks to each form, so do some research and talk with your doctor to figure out which birth control is best for you

5. Practice Using Condoms And Other Barriers

Once you’ve determined which barrier methods you and your partner want to use, practice using them! It can be nerve-wracking to open a condom for the first time when you’re in the heat of the moment. Practice opening packages, figuring out how things go on, and then actually putting them on. Some quick tips: 

Dental dams 

These shouldn’t be tight against the body — just let them naturally cover up and cling to the body’s curves and folds. 

Practice opening condom packages, figuring out how things go on, and then actually putting them on.

Condoms (external) 

Don’t use your teeth or scissors to open the wrapper. Hold the condom flat in your palm and see which way up it is and make sure it’s not inside-out. Apply a small bit of lube to the inside of it for increased sensation and comfort. 

Condoms (internal)

Inserting these for the first time can be a handful, but luckily, you can insert them in advance or have your partner help you. 

6. Try Masturbation

One step that people often skip before having sex for the first time is masturbation. Masturbation helps you figure out how you liked to be touched, what types of sensations you like, and basically, what makes you feel good — and what doesn’t. 

Schedule some solo time to get to know your body before you have sex for the first time. This is a great time to practice using the barrier methods you’ve gathered, to figure out how much lube is the right amount, and to figure out what you want in a pressure-reduced environment. 

7. Find A Private Location For Your First Time

Before having sex for the first time, think about where you’re going to do it. Find a private, safe, comfortable place, and make sure you both know where to go.

8. Talk About It Together

Before you have sex for the first time, plan a date to talk about it together. How are you feeling, really? What are you nervous about? Excited about? Is there anything in particular you do or don’t want to try?

Talking about sex before you have sex helps you to know your partner better and can reduce feelings of anxiety to help make for a more enjoyable experience. 

9. Do Some Research

You probably still have some questions floating around in your mind, and it’s okay to do research — like you are right now! Explore resources on first-time sex to answer some of your most-pressing questions.

10. Ask Questions

Even after doing all of that research, you may still have questions. Do you have a trusted friend or adult in your life who you could turn to? If so, plan for some time to talk with them about how you’re feeling or what is mystifying you. 

Find a private, safe, comfortable place, and make sure you both know where to go.

Not that you’re prepared, go out and have a happy, safe, and fun first time!

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

Cassandra is an independent sex educator who teaches at colleges and universities across the United States. Formerly a victim advocate, her teaching areas focus in un/healthy relationships, violence prevention, LGBTQ+ health, and pleasure. As an undergraduate student at New College of Florida, Cassandra founded a 24/7 relationship education resource center, institutionalized Sexual Assault Awareness Month programming, facilitated Title IX working groups, co-authored a best practices document for gender inclusivity in the classroom, developed a safe space training program, and taught a course in bystander intervention program development. When she isn’t teaching, you can find her at a park with her dog or curled up with a book.

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