Am I Ready To Have Sex? What To Consider
Sex. What’s your first reaction to hearing this word? Excitement? Nervousness? Uncertainty? Arousal? Maybe all of the above? If you’re thinking about having sex for the first time, then this topic may feel even more charged up.
Whether you’re 16 or 26, there’s no right age to have sex, but it can still be a confusing time to navigate. You might feel like there’s a volleyball game in your head and heart (and other places), which is why we’re here to help clear up some confusion and offer guidance on what to consider if you’re wondering “Am I ready to have sex?”.
It Doesn’t Have To Be a Huge Deal
Having sex (or not having it) may seem like the biggest decision you’re ever going to make. Especially if you’re facing it right now. And it’s hard to understand this at the moment, but it doesn’t have to be a huge deal. Hear me out.
Sex is a huge part of being human, being in relationships, and experiencing pleasure. But like every other part of being human, sex isn’t perfect. It can be silly and messy (literally), funny and intense. It can be so many things, and this imperfect part of life doesn’t have to have so much pressure on it.
The goal of a healthy sex life (besides procreating if you’re into that) is pleasure, connection, joy, and presence. Focusing on that makes you realize that your first time doesn’t have to be a huge event, instead, it’s a gateway to a new (very fun) part of life.
We understand that this can be complicated if your religion or culture has particular views on life, but we urge you to make your own decisions and seek supportive, non-judgmental guidance where you can.
Defining Sex for Yourself
Another thing to consider is what sex means to you. Sex doesn’t just mean a penis in a vagina. Although it certainly can if you want it to. You get to decide what sex means to you, who you want to have sex with, and everything else that has to do with your unique sexuality.
Sex can also include oral sex, manual stimulation (fingering and hand jobs), using toys, penetration with a dildo, non-penetrative genital-to-genital stimulation, and anything else you can think of. Realizing that you get to define sex for yourself helps break down stereotypes and gives you more autonomy over your own body and choices.
Sexuality can evolve too. You might realize you’re attracted to a new gender or had new realizations about your gender that changed your romantic dynamics. This is all ok and a normal part of being a sexual human!
You Feel Comfortable Communicating Your Needs
Something that a lot of people don’t consider, or don’t even realize before having sex is that they are in charge of communicating what they want. Your partner is not a mind reader, especially if sex is new for both of you.
This is your time to learn together, and one of the best ways to do that is through communication. Do you want to try a certain position? Can you try a different angle? Do you need to move more slowly? These are all important questions to ask yourself, and communicate with whoever you’re having sex with.
This is a skill that takes time, and if sex is new for you, then you might not even know what you like yet. If it makes you feel any better, a lot of people who have been having sex for quite some time still don’t know what they want or how to communicate it. It’s saddening, but this doesn’t have to be you. Start working on this skill now so that you can ask for what you want in bed.
Know Your Boundaries
It’s just as important to be able to communicate what you do want as what you don’t want. Boundaries are an important part of any relationship, especially if you’re having sex.
Having healthy boundaries allows you to have an enjoyable sex life where you feel empowered and respected. Understanding your boundaries and how to set them before even having sex helps give you a strong foundation for all sexual encounters or relationships to come.
Boundaries can look like this:
- “I’m tired and don’t want to have sex right now.”
- “I want to keep our clothes on today.”
- “I want to talk about it before we try something new.”
- “This doesn’t feel good, let’s try something else.”
Please don’t ever feel bad about saying no to a certain sexual act, having sex when you don’t want to, or anything else that pushes your boundaries. If someone does not respect your boundaries, we urge you to have a serious talk with them and/or reevaluate the relationship.
Making Responsible Sexual Health Choices
If you decide to have sex, you’re also committing to making responsible decisions about your sexual health. That includes things we already talked about like communicating your needs and boundaries, but it also means taking care of your body to the best of your ability.
Here’s the thing – there’s no such thing as “safe sex”. We prefer the term “safeR sex”. Because things happen and sometimes people get pregnant or get sexually transmitted infections. While it can be nerve-wracking or embarrassing it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
STIs are a part of nature, and usually, the stigma and idea of them are worse than the actual infection itself. Most of the most commonly transmitted STIs can be treated with antibiotics.
Here are some other safer sex decisions:
- Use barrier methods like condoms and/or dental dams (even for oral sex).
- Talk to your doctor about your birth control options.
- Learn your body to know when you’re ovulating to help avoid unwanted pregnancies.
- If you do get an STI, know how to communicate that with your partner or new partners.
- Get STI tested before and after a new partner, or regularly if either of you has multiple partners.
Know that there are no wrong decisions. This is your body and your choice. Most people will have sex eventually, so you get to check in with yourself about whether this is the right time.
If you have someone else to talk to like a therapist, a supportive parent or family member, or even a school counselor – we highly recommend talking with them. You deserve to have your questions and concerns answered with clear information and without judgment. Above all – enjoy!
Natasha (she/her) is a full-spectrum doula and health+wellness copywriter. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, health, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more education and empowerment. You can connect with Natasha on IG @natasha.s.weiss.