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 Also remember that consent can be withdrawn at any time from either person involved for any reason.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.