Healthy lives for young people
Sex

Having sex for the first time

When you decide to have sex for the first time, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. The most important thing is for you to feel comfortable and do what makes you feel good.

When you decide to have sex for the first time, it’s important for you to feel comfortable and do what makes you feel good. 

Many people feel a little nervous before they have sex for the first time. Nerves are natural when you are thinking about doing something you haven’t done before. However, these nerves should be linked to anticipation and excitement rather than fear or panic. Having sex for the first time should be something that you want to do and you are looking forward to, not something that causes you anxiety or distress.

It’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to have sex. Good sex is more about feeling comfortable with someone, trusting them and being able to communicate with them than it is about having the perfect technique or doing specific things. 

What we mean by ‘sex’

Often, when people talk about having sex for the first time they mean having penetrative vaginal or anal sex. At Brook, when we talk about sex, we are usually talking about all forms of sexual contact between two or more people: this could include penetrative sex, oral sex, fingering and using sex toys amongst other things. 

TOP TIPS

Sex and consent

Our number one tip for great sex is consent. It’s important that everyone involved is consenting at all times – no one should ever feel they have to do something they are not comfortable with or don’t want to do. Just because you have consented to one thing doesn’t mean you have consented to something else, and it’s completely OK to say no or stop at any point if you don’t want to continue.

Read more about sex and consent

If your partner changes their mind, it’s OK for you to feel disappointed, but if you’re so unhappy that your partner feels they have to have sex in order to cheer you up, this isn’t consensual

Don’t rush

It can feel like there is a lot pressure to have sex, but take your time and ask yourself if you’re ready. You might be thinking about having sex because your friends have (or say they have), because your partner wants to or because the characters in your favourite shows are all doing it. Some people feel that there is an age by which you should have had sex for the first time – this isn’t the case.

The right time to have sex for the first time is when you are ready and want to. And remember – you can change your mind at any point. You shouldn’t feel pressure from anyone else to have sex: not the first time, not the hundredth time, never.

Communicate

Have a conversation (or lots of them!) with the person you are going to have sex with. Talk about what you want to do, what your boundaries are, what you are worried about, how you are going to make sure you have safe sex and anything else you want to discuss! Communication is key to consensual and enjoyable sex. 

I’m worried what they will think about my body

Worrying about what your partner might think about your body is common, particularly when having sex with someone for the first time. It’s really important to remember that:

1. We are constantly being bombarded with ideas about how our bodies should look and what is considered desirable. In reality, everyone’s body is different and all bodies are wonderful. Read more about bodies
2. You are both in the same position, and they may also have concerns about their body and what you will think. Talking about this beforehand can help both of you to feel more relaxed.
3. If you both want to have sex together, then neither of you is going to be concerned about how the other person’s body looks! Your focus will be on enjoying the moment and each other. 

Your partner should always be respectful of you and your body, and you should be respectful of theirs. If they are doing or saying certain things that are making you feel uncomfortable about your body, let them know. If they carry on after you have asked them not to, then they are not showing you the respect you deserve and you should consider whether they are someone you want to be having sex with.

Be safe

It is important to keep in mind that you can still get a sexually transmitted infection (STI) even if it is your first time. If one of you has a penis and the other a vagina then pregnancy is also possible, so it is really important to have contraception sorted first. 

It’s also harder to get excited about sex if you’re worried about pregnancy or STIs. A lot of people like to visit a clinic before they have sex so that they can get tested, get free condoms and get comfortable with a type of contraception before they think about actually having sex.

Condoms

Condoms are the only method of contraception that also protects against STIs. We recommend getting familiar with condoms before you have sex so you feel confident with them. Remember: you shouldn’t ever feel pressured to have sex without a condom in the same way you shouldn’t ever feel pressured to have sex. You have the right to choose to use condoms every time.

Read our guidance on condoms: 
How to use a condom
Talking about condoms
Condom excuses
Common condom mistakes

Relax

The more relaxed you are, the better the whole experience will be. Feeling a little nervous before having sex for the first time is natural, but you shouldn’t feel stressed or tense. 

If the nerves are a bit overwhelming, try slowing things down. Take your time kissing and touching each other, for example, exploring each other’s erogenous zones. Or step back from sex and try something else like giving each other massage, or taking a bath or shower together. 

What are erogenous zones?

An erogenous zone is an area of your body which is very sensitive, and can produce a sexual response when it is touched. An important part of discovering your sexuality is learning which parts of your body feel good to be touched. 

Common examples of erogenous zones for people with penises include the penis, scrotum, anus, prostate and nipples. Common examples of erogenous zones for people with vulvas include the vulva, vagina, anus and nipples. They can also include, but are not limited to, other areas of your body such as your neck, ears, back, hips and thighs.

If the nerves are too much or you decide you’re not ready, that’s completely fine – there is no rush and you can always try again another time if you want to. 

If your partner changes their mind, is too nervous or doesn’t feel ready for sex you should respect their decision, even if it is disappointing for you. Forcing or pressuring them to carry on is not consensual.

Listen to your body

Sometimes, even if we really REALLY want to have sex, our genitals don’t always get the message! Sometimes erections, vaginal wetness and relaxed muscles just don’t happen. Trying to have sex when your body isn’t ready could result in pain or discomfort which, ultimately, will mean it’s not enjoyable. Try and be comfortable with the possibility that even if you’ve been looking forward to this for ages, you might not be able to make it happen and that’s OK. There is no rush. 

Penetrative sex shouldn’t hurt

Having penetrative sex for the first time can feel really good and, as long as you take your time and go gently, it shouldn’t be painful or uncomfortable (though it might feel a bit strange to start with – it’s a new experience). If it is, it might be a sign that you are not turned on enough or are feeling nervous. Read more about painful sex

Using a water-based lube can help with penetrative sex by making things more slippery. If you are having anal sex you will need to use lots of lube because the anus and rectum aren’t self-lubricating. Read more about anal sex

It is common for people with vaginas to worry their vagina will be stretched or damaged from penetrative sex. In fact, having penis in vagina sex doesn’t change the size or shape of the vagina in any way. The vagina is a bit like an elastic tube that stretches to accommodate the penis, whatever size it is, and then goes back to its original size and shape afterwards. 

Go with the flow

Sex in real life isn’t always like we see in the movies (or porn)! 

In reality, things don’t always go smoothly – there can be moments of awkwardness, amusement and it can be messy! This is why feeling ready, comfortable and communicating with your partner is really important. 

If something is awkward, talk about it. If something is funny, laugh together. Ultimately, this will help you feel more relaxed and make the whole experience even more enjoyable. 

Screwball! – A brilliant comedy drama by TrueTube about two young people working their way through their first sexual encounter.
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