Sure, everyone talks about sex. Your friends, magazines, and even your family. That’s why it’s hard to know when to become sexually active and what to expect.
Being sexually active can include various activities with partners that are the opposite sex, the same sex, or both. Think tongue/mouth/hand/finger/penis/dildo/vibrator/vulva to vagina/vulva/penis/anus, and many combos in between! Because sex means different things to different people, it’s important to recognize that sex is about exchanging pleasure in ways that are comfortable for everyone involved.
Just remember, it’s normal to feel anxious when talking about becoming “sexually active,” and there’s no right or wrong time to have sex for the first time. Take the time you need to decide what’s right for you. Your first time is just that…yours!
Am I ready for sex?
There are countless reasons to decide to have or not have sex. Only you can decide what is right for you! Think about how having sex aligns with your health and values. It is important to make sure that the decision to have sex is coming from you, not your partner (or your friends). Just so you know, only about half of high school students have ever had sex, and the average age people have their “first time” is 17. If you feel pressured, you have the right to wait. A worthy partner will be understanding and not coerce you into anything you don’t want to do. If you don’t feel comfortable, exercise your right to abstain from sex. Even if you have had sex before, you get to decide if/when you have sex again. P.S. Sex with a partner isn’t the only way to experience pleasure!
Facts v. Myths
FACT: “Virginity” is a construct created largely to suppress and control (primarily female) sexuality. Different people define sex differently, and having (or not having) sex doesn’t change anything about who you are.
MYTH: Since it’s the first time, you can’t get pregnant or contract STIs.
FACT: Oh, you definitely can. That’s why before becoming sexually active, you should learn about practicing safe sex. Using protection (like condoms and dental dams) doesn’t make sex any less enjoyable; in fact, the peace of mind can make you feel even more comfortable. If applicable to you and your partner, it is also wise to look into birth control options that best suit your lifestyle and needs!
MYTH: First-time vaginal or anal sex will hurt like a motherf**r (Sorry, parents!).
FACT: For some people, the first time having vaginal or anal sex (finger/penis/toy in vagina/anus) can be pleasurable, but for others, it can hurt. Pain during sex might mean you don’t have enough lubrication (the wetter the better!), need to try a different position, or are simply nervous. If first-time penetrative sex does hurt, pause and talk to your partner to work out ways to make sex more enjoyable. There is nothing wrong with slowing down or stopping entirely. Communication is key! During the first time having penetrative sex, people with vaginas might experience some light bleeding, but it shouldn’t last long, and it’s nothing to be concerned about. If bleeding or pain continues, it’s important to talk to your doctor. It might also help to read up on pain and dysfunction. You deserve to experience pain-free pleasure!
MYTH: The first time will be just like the movies.
FACT: Ha! Let’s face it. TV and Movies generally glamorize the first time, and EVERY time thereafter! This gross misrepresentation of real-world sex creates unrealistic expectations about what sex is really like. It’s OK, and perfectly normal, if your first time isn’t “perfect.” What is perfect, anyway? Sex can get weird, it can get awkward, and it can be funny (#bodyfarts). If you’re uncomfortable at any point, communicate with your partner, and explore in a way that is safe and pleasurable for you.
Okay, so you’ve decided to have sex. now what?
Now what, indeed. The most important component to positive, pleasurable sex is communication. That begins with consent. Consent involves clear and active communication and respect between partners to make sure all parties are comfortable every step of the way. It is important to discuss and respect each other’s boundaries consistently. Expression of consent at one point does not imply future consent. A person can decide at any time to stop an activity. Continuous communication is key! It’s important to never let someone pressure you into having sex if you’re not interested. The decision to have sex for the first time (and every time after) is yours, and yours alone! Remember, it’s totally appropriate to wait to have sex, too. Communication is also important for guiding your partner during sex so you can experience mutual pleasure. It can be great to masturbate prior to trying partnered sex for the first time. Knowing what you like along can lead to even better sex with someone else (and help you wait if you’re not ready)!
What happens after I have sex?
You may or may not turn into a unicorn. ?? Kidding, obvi (or am I?). After you have sex for the first time, you might experience a lot of emotions and thoughts. Perhaps you’ll wonder if your partner enjoyed it or why it wasn’t as great as you expected it to be, or maybe you’ll wonder how you’ve gone this long without experiencing such immense pleasure and when you can do it again. Quite possibly, you’ll simply feel indifferent. Rest assured, there is no “normal” way to respond to having sex for the first time. Regardless of what you’re thinking or feeling, it might help to to talk to the person you had sex with, a trusted friend or family member, or even a mental health professional about your experience. You definitely don’t have to, but there’s no reason to be ashamed or embarrassed, so if you want to talk about it, go right ahead! If you don’t have anyone to talk to, you can write about it privately or you can always chat with us! We’ve got your back.
The key to pleasurable sex, whether you’re a beginner, or you’ve had it a million times, is communication. If you’re curious to learn more about what turns you on, try masturbating first! Don’t forget… condoms and dental dams will help protect you against STIs!