How Do I Know When I’m Ready To Have Sex For The First Time?

The decision to have sex for the first time can be a big one. Here are some pointers to help you figure out if you’re ready.

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The Quickie
4 minute read

So you’re thinking about having sex for the first time. How exciting! Understandably, first-time sex can also sometimes be a cause of anxiety. But if you follow a few simple guidelines and ask yourself some questions about your own desires beforehand, you can overcome that anxiety and focus on your enthusiasm for trying out partnered sex.

Here are some questions to consider:

1. Are You Emotionally Ready For Sex?

An important first step is to ask yourself whether now is a good time for you to begin having sex. Do you feel like sex is something you find yourself wanting and is it something you are emotionally prepared for? Or is there an external pressure in your life that makes you feel as though you “should” be having sex by now?

The reality is that the right time to have first-time sex is different for every individual. Sex is something we should be doing for ourselves, without pressure. So while it’s okay to be nervous about having partnered sex for the first time, it’s never okay for someone to pressure you into it. Checking in with yourself about your own desires is key.

A good way to determine whether you feel emotionally ready is to ask yourself the question: "Do I feel excited about having sex?" If the answer is definitely yes, that’s a great signal. Another thing to consider is whether you’re in a healthy mental space. It’s not uncommon for people to look to sex for emotional comfort when they’re feeling depressed, anxious, or overly stressed out. Adding sex to the equation, however, often only adds another stressor.

It’s also important to reflect on your expectations surrounding your sexual partner. Are you looking for a casual interaction, or a more serious relationship? How do you see sex changing your relationship, if at all? Assessing whether you feel able to communicate your needs and desires to your prospective partner is another good way to determine whether you’re ready for sex.

2. Do You Know How To Practice Good Consent?

Consent is a vital part of engaging in any sexual activity. Before you decide to have sex for the first time, be sure that you know how to practice informed, ongoing consent. In short, verbal words or non-verbal gestures of consent are mandatory to make sure everyone is up for and into any activity you’re engaging in.

Make sure you feel comfortable with the person you’re going to have sex with and that you ask them for a verbal "yes" to indicate their consent beforehand. Also remember that consent can be withdrawn at any time from either person involved for any reason.

This ties into another key question to consider before you have sex for the first time: Do you trust the person you are considering having sex with? In other words, do they make you feel safe and respected? It’s important to be able to express your feelings and desires to your partner during sex to ensure the most pleasurable and empowering sexual experience for both of you.

3. Do You Know How To Practice Safer Sex?

Once you know you’re comfortable enough to have sex for the first time, it’s important to learn how to practice safer sex. It’s essential to take precautions to look after both your emotional and physical health and specifically to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancy.

Consent is a vital part of engaging in any sexual activity. Before you decide to have sex for the first time, be sure that you know how to practice good, ongoing consent.

STIs are very common. In fact, it is estimated that more than 1 million sexually transmitted infections are acquired every day worldwide. The good news, however, is that STIs are preventable. Condoms are a really effective method of preventing both STIs and unplanned pregnancy.

If you’re worried about becoming pregnant, it’s a good idea to consider methods of birth control such as the contraceptive pill or the implant. There are lots of different birth control options available that you can discuss with a doctor or health care provider.

4. Do You Know What Turns You On?

Do you know what makes you feel good in bed? Figuring out what gives you the most pleasure will help you communicate your desires to your partner, leading to more satisfying sexual experiences. One way to learn what feels best is by exploring self-pleasure on your own. And once you have a sense of what you enjoy, experimenting with mutual masturbation is a good way to direct your partner to where and how you like to be touched.

For example, some people prefer their partner to apply a firm pressure to their penis or clit during manual stimulation and oral sex, while others prefer a gentler touch. Some prefer faster motions, while others prefer slower motions. Some people enjoy variety, while others prefer more consistent rhythmic motions. The only way to figure out what works for you is to try it out!

Do you know what makes you feel good in bed? And do you feel able to ask for what you want?

Ultimately, everyone’s first time having sex is going to be different. Your first time can be awkward, messy, or uncomfortable—but equally it can be lots of fun. As long as you feel ready and stay protected, your first time having sex can be a truly exciting and empowering experience.

Related Articles:

What To Know About Having Sex For The First Time

What Is Your Vulva? What Are The Parts Of A Vagina?

Circumcised And Uncircumcised Penis Anatomy

How To Orgasm

What Causes Premature Ejaculation?

I Want Sex! How To Get The Pleasure You Desire


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Video transcript

The things I wish I knew at 18 about sex? Number one is basic anatomy. I wish I knew about the clitoris. I wish I knew that sex can feel really pleasurable. I wish that I knew that consent can be withdrawn whenever. It doesn’t matter if your clothes are off already, it doesn’t matter if you already agreed to do something, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t really matter at all what happens to make you want to stop sex while it’s happening, but that at any time, you should be able to stop it. And that no is a complete sentence. The third thing that I wish I knew at 18 is that your needs are your needs, your desires are your desires, and the more we can accept our desires, the happier our sex life will be. Because I think that a lot of people judge the things they like and they judge the things they want to do and really as long as it’s in between consenting adults there’s really nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to what you want in the bedroom.

Does Sex Hurt The First Time?

People say that it hurts the first time you have sex. But is that true? Explore the reasons pain can happen when it’s your first time, and how to reduce the chances of discomfort.

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The Quickie
5 minute read

There is a prevalent myth that penetrative sex is supposed to hurt the first time - but it doesn’t have to! There are lots of ways to lessen the possibility of pain during sex, including communication, lubrication, and relaxation. 

There are so many different kinds of sex out there, and only you get to decide when is the right time for you and your partner. There’s one no right time or right way to have sex! 

If you are choosing to have penetrative vaginal or anal sex for the first time it might feel like a big deal. After all, our society puts a lot of pressure and expectations on first time sex, especially penetrative types of sex.

While pain does sometimes happen during sex, it’s our body’s way of telling us that something is off - and it’s time to take a step back and reassess. Read on to explore the reasons why sex might be painful when it’s your first time.

Why Sex Might Be Painful The First Time

Uncomfortable Position

Switch it up! Different bodies fit better together in different ways, not to mention feeling better with different speeds or depth of penetration. If something’s not working, move around or use a pillow to get more comfortable. Try going slower, and reducing the depth of penetration.

Need More Lube

Vaginas produce some natural lubrication, but stress, medication, or hormones, can affect lubrication. Not being naturally lubricated doesn’t mean someone isn’t turned on! Even if you have plenty of natural lubrication, keeping a bottle of lube on hand is always a good idea.

If something’s not working, move around or use a pillow to get more comfortable. Try going slower, and reducing the depth of penetration.

An anus doesn’t produce natural lubrication so if you’re having anal sex for the first time you will definitely want a lube on hand. Silicone lube is often preferred for anal because it lasts longer, but water-based is also a good choice for a more gel-like feel.

Nervousness Or Fear

Due to society’s expectations and hoopla around the first time a person has partnered sex, some folks feel a little freaked out, nervous, or stressed the first time they do it. These feelings and lack of relaxation can cause pelvic muscles to tighten, causing pain. 

Communicating with a partner about these feelings can help, as well as taking time to warm up with other activities. If penetrative sex doesn’t feel good in that moment, there’s no reason you have to continue with it, even if you’ve been planning it for that particular night. There are so many different ways to get sexy with a partner, and pausing to cuddle or make out for a while before trying again is always an option!

The Hymen

Some fears around first time vaginal sex stem from misinformation about the hymen, which is a thin tissue at the opening of the vagina. Everyone’s hymen is a little different, and some stretch or tear more easily than others. The hymen can tear while playing sports or just reduce in size over time, so it’s not reliable way to tell if someone has ever had intercourse before. The hymen could also break during first time sex and you might experience some bleeding or might not even notice at all!

Possible Condition Or Infection

Common infections like a yeast infection or vaginosis can cause pain or discomfort during sex, as well as other conditions like vaginismus. Some folks choose to drink alcohol or use numbing creams to mask the pain, but that’s not a good idea, the real cause needs to be dealt with so you can experience pleasure. It’s important to get checked out and diagnosed by a doctor or clinician in order to get the right treatment or pelvic floor physical therapy exercises.

You may want to get comfortable with your own anatomy and the sensation of penetration beforehand using your fingers or a sex toy.

Learn Your Body

If you’re concerned about the possibility of pain during intercourse for the first time, you may want to get comfortable with your own anatomy and the sensation of penetration beforehand using your fingers or a sex toy. Practicing can help you get used to the sensations, help the muscles learn how to respond, and can also increase your emotional comfort around the activity.

Communicate If Sex Is Painful 

If someone is in pain or uncomfortable for any reason at all, it’s time to pause and discuss with their partner how to make sure everyone is feeling good! Penetrative sex is seen in our culture as the “home run” goal of sex, and all other kinds of sex should lead up to it. However, if it doesn’t feel good in that moment, that’s okay! 

Sex can be anything that consenting partners want it to be. It doesn’t have to always lead up to penetration or orgasm; it could just be a way of exploring each others bodies and having fun together, building connection, and making each other feel good. Don’t feel limited, and communicate your needs!

Related Articles:

10 Things To Consider Before Having Sex For The First Time

5 Myths About First-Time Sex

How Do I Know When I’m Ready To Have Sex For The First Time?

What To Know About Having Sex For The First Time

First-Time Sex: What To Know About Consent


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