Deciding to become sexually active can be a major turning point in a person’s life. There are many factors to consider when making this decision and it is important to realize that it is normal to have certain worries or concerns. When thinking about becoming sexually active, a person must consider the experience of their partner and whether or not they have gotten tested for STI’s (sexually transmitted infections), educate themselves on the different methods of birth control, and make sure they are emotionally ready for this big step.
Is This The Right Decision?
Sex can be an incredibly fun and exciting experience, but it also comes with many responsibilities. Before deciding to become sexually active, a person should educate themselves about sex. Knowing about pregnancy and STIs, as well as how to avoid them, is an important step in deciding whether or not to have sex. It is possible to become pregnant, get someone pregnant, or contract an STI from a first sexual experience.
Be sure that becoming sexually active is something that you really want before engaging in sexual activities. Some of the wrong reasons for deciding to become sexually active include the idea that everyone is doing it, or being pressured by a partner, friends, or the media. It is also wise to realize that having sex does not equal love, nor will it make someone love you. However, being in love with someone before having sex with them may make the experience much more pleasurable and rewarding.
You only have sex for the first time once. Ask yourself if the person you wish to be sexually active with is the right person. Deciding who to share your virginity with can be a big decision for most people. At SexInfo, we encourage thinking it through before deciding to have sex with someone to ensure that you are making the right decision.
Are You Prepared?
First time sex should be carefully thought out beforehand. While it often occurs unexpectedly, remember to use proper protection and to make sure that you are making the right decision. STIs and unwanted pregnancy are risks that each person should consider when deciding to be sexually active. For this reason it is important to be prepared. Preparation can mean keeping condoms close by to use when the moment arrives and seeing a doctor about starting birth control. Preparation can also mean getting tested early to ensure that you are in good sexual health.
What Should Be Expected?
Some females may experience pain during their first time having sex, while others may just feel slightly uncomfortable or feel no pain at all. All of these situations are normal. In most cases, the sexual encounters that follow one’s first time start to become more enjoyable. It is also possible and normal for males to experience some discomfort and even performance anxiety (worries about sexual inadequacy) if they have little experience during their first time having sex. To avoid an uncomfortable first sexual experience, consider the following:
- Be sure that you are in the right state of mind. Ensure that you have considered the benefits and risks and are ready to have sex. Additionally, know that performance anxiety, or worries about sexual inadequacy, may be common during one’s first time. If you feel yourself experiencing this, try to remain present in sharing each moment with your partner in order to take some pressure off of yourself.
- Be sure that you are fully aroused. Spending more time on foreplay, especially for a female, will ensure there is proper lubrication, which will make sex more enjoyable for both partners. This also goes for LGBT couples because proper lubrication is required for anal sex and manual stimulation.
- Use lube! As mentioned above, much of the pain that females experience during sex is due to the lack of adequate lubrication. It is natural to be nervous your first time having sex, which may inhibit you from becoming fully aroused and therefore properly lubricated. Using extra lube will ensure a more sensational experience.
- Use protection. Sex that is free from the worries of a possible pregnancy or STI is much more enjoyable.
It is normal for some females to bleed during or after their first time having sex. Bleeding is usually caused by the tearing of the hymen, or other minor tears or irritations. If a female does not bleed the first time she has sex, it does not mean that she is not a virgin.1 The tearing of the hymen may be due to the hymen being stretched or torn previously during sports, the insertion of tampons, or rigorous exercises. Some spotting is nothing to be concerned about for the first few times having sex. However, if the bleeding persists or becomes heavier (and is not a menstrual period), it may be wise to see a doctor.
Are There Other Options?
There are other ways to experience sexual pleasure without having intercourse. Things such as kissing, manual stimulation, and oral sex are great options if a person does not feel ready to have sex. Engaging in any kind of sexual activity is always a personal decision. Only do what you are comfortable with and it is wise to set your boundaries with partners before engaging in any sexual activities.
Also, since sex is usually considered penile-vaginal (P/V) intercourse, many LGBT couples may have trouble defining what constitutes the loss of their virginity, or having sex for the first time, since P/V sex is not usually possible for these couples. Every person’s definition of sex is different. A male who has anal sex with a male partner may still refer to it as sex and could consider himself to have lost his virginity the first time that he engages in this activity. The same goes for lesbian couples who engage in sexual intimacy.
Who Should I Talk To?
Before deciding to engage in sexual activity, it may be wise to communicate with someone about your decision first. This person could be a parent, trusted adult, counselor, teacher, or even friends. Planned Parenthood is another helpful resource that provides free, confidential consultations and can provide information about aspects such as birth control and STI protection. Still, it is wise to not let anyone else’s opinions outweigh your own.
Since discussing sex with a parent/guardian or other family member may be uncomfortable, some people choose not to tell them that they have decided to have sex. However, having an open conversation with your parents about sex may be beneficial for you. Either option is okay, but it is helpful to remember that you are not alone. Many people must make these decisions at some point in their lives and your parents’ past experiences, or their reactions to your decisions, may surprise you.
Your partner, or the person you plan on having sex with, is one of the most important people to talk to before deciding to have sex for the first time. Since this is the person that you are deciding to be intimate with, communicate openly about what you want from the experience and stay safe by making sure that both parties have been tested for STI’s. In addition, discuss what method of birth control is best for you if you wish to avoid pregnancy. These topics may seem awkward to discuss at first, but the alternatives can be much worse. Engaging in open communication with a partner may also decrease feelings of anxiety over the experience and make both partners feel more comfortable.
Having sex for the first time is no small decision, and although the idea of sex can be very fun, you should be prepared and fully confident in taking this step. If you feel any pressure or hesitation to lose your virginity before you’re ready, remember that waiting is always an option. Additionally, keep in mind that a bad first time sex experience does not mean that sex is not for you, as sex is something that takes practice. By going into the experience with the right partner, information, and preparation, you can stay safe and stress-free during your first time.
1. Mishori, Ferdowisan, Naimer, Volpellier, McHale. The Little Tissue that Couldn’t – Dispelling Myths About the Hymen’s Role in Determining Sexual History and Assault.Reproductive Health. Vol. 16: 74. 2019.
Last Updated: 20 November 2019.