Having sex for the first time

If you’re thinking about having sex for the first time, you might be feeling a little nervous as well as excited. There’s probably loads you want to know – and that’s totally normal. We’ve put together a list of some stuff to consider before, during and after your first time having sex.

Ask yourself ‘Am I ready for sex?'

Deciding to have sex for the first time is a pretty big deal. Make sure you’re ready, and that you’ve thought through the following:

  • Is sex something you really want to do, or do you feel you're being pressured into it?

  • What are you comfortable doing, and what is 'off limits'?

  • Do you want to be in a committed relationship with the person you have sex with?

If you’re not sure if you’re 100% ready, it can help to talk with someone you trust, such as a trusted friend or family member, or a mental health professional. If you’re in a relationship, it’s very important that you talk to your partner about how you both feel, and to make sure that you both consent. Sexual consent must be explicit, which means that both people say that they really want to have sex.  Read up on the five things you need to know about sexual consent.

Okay, I'm ready for sex. Now what?

So, you’re feeling ready for sex, and both you and your partner consent. Awesome. But here’s the thing: it’s important to go about it in a responsible way. For example, if you don’t practise safe sex, you can get a sexually transmissible infection (STI). And if you’re thinking of having penis-in-vagina sex, there’s a chance you could get pregnant as well. Luckily, there are things you can do to reduce the chances of becoming infected or pregnant.

How to be safe when having sex for the first time

Luckily, there are things you can do to reduce the chances of becoming infected or falling pregnant.

Using ‘protection’ like condoms (for penis-in-vagina or penis-in-anus sex) or dams (for oral sex on a vagina or anus) will massively reduce your chance of contracting or spreading an STI. Condoms, and other types of contraception, will also help prevent unwanted pregnancies. Find more info about condoms here.

When it comes to preventing STIs, the best thing you can do is know what to look out for. Read up on the causes, symptoms and treatments of STIs, and know how to get a sexual health check.

What to expect during your first time having sex

Still have lots of questions? Here's some more info that might help.

Does sex hurt the first time?

For some people, first-time sex can feel uncomfortable and may hurt or sting a bit. For others, though, it’s comfy, fun and enjoyable from the get-go. It’s a totally individual experience.

What to do: Pain during sex may mean there’s not enough lubrication to help things move smoothly. If there’s not enough natural lubrication, this could be from a lack of desire, from feeling nervous, or because things are moving too fast. Medications, hormones, tiredness and illness can also affect natural lubrication.

Try suggesting a different position, asking your partner to slow down, or using extra lubrication. Make sure it’s a water-based lube if you’re using condoms, and ALWAYS use extra lube for anal sex. Get more information about lube here.

If it hurts a lot, stop. Discuss with your partner ways to make sex more comfortable, or talk to your GP if you’re concerned there might be something else going on.

What's the hymen?

The hymen is a thin membrane that surrounds the opening of the vagina. You may notice a little bit of blood the first time you have vaginal sex if the hymen tears. This is normal. It’s equally normal not to have any! If there is some bleeding from sex, it shouldn’t last very long. If it continues, visit your GP.

Will first-time sex create fireworks?

Your first time having sex can be awesome, or it may leave you feeling a bit disappointed. It’s hard to tell before you do it. As with most things, good sex takes practice. If fireworks don’t happen straight off, don’t stress. Everyone is different: some people don’torgasm during sex, some orgasm really quickly, and others take a very long time to reach orgasm, especially the first few times. It can take a while to work out what you both like, what you’re comfortable with, and what feels good. You’re not expected to be a mind reader, so try to be open with your partner and let them know what does and doesn’t do it for you. We get that it’s not always easy to talk about this stuff, and it might take awhile before you feel ready to discuss it.

How should I feel after having sex for the first time?

After having sex for the first time, you may feel really great, excited and close to your partner, because of all the hormones rushing through your body. It’s also common to feel worried, confused, teary, or even a bit guilty. This could be because it was different from what you expected, or it feels like a big deal, or you might feel unsure about how it will affect your relationship.

Sex is a very personal thing, and can feel really intimate, so experiencing intense feelings afterwards is understandable. If you’re worried about what you’re feeling, talk it through with your partner, a trusted friend or family member, or a mental health professional.

What can I do now?