How to Know if You Are Ready to Have Sex

Three Parts:Evaluating the SituationTalking About SexEnjoying Your First Time

Sex can be a wonderful thing, if you are ready to become sexually active. If you are not ready, then it can have some severe consequences including emotional problems, sexually transmitted infections, and even unintended pregnancy. There are several ways that you can determine if you are ready to start having sex. If you decide that you are ready for sex, you will need to discuss concerns and expectations with your partner and make a plan for protecting yourselves. Doing these things will help to ensure that your first time will be safe and enjoyable.

Part 1
Evaluating the Situation

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    Know that everyone is different. Making the decision to become sexually active is a big one and you have to consider your unique situation. There is no “right” time to become sexually active. It is just something that you have to think about and do your best to make the right decision for you.[1]
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    Examine your personal beliefs. Before you decide if you are ready to have sex or not, it is important to think about your personal values and beliefs. Your values and beliefs help define you, so you should think about how a decision to start having sex would impact your values and beliefs. Try to identify the personal beliefs and values that you have in order to determine how you might be affected by becoming sexually active.[2]
    • For example, if part of your belief system is that sex should be saved for marriage, how would having premarital sex affect you? Or, if you always thought your first time would be with someone you love, how would having casual sex with someone you just like affect you?
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    Identify your questions about sex, STIs, and pregnancy. To reduce your chances of contracting an STI or getting pregnant as a result of your sexual activity, it is important to think about what questions you have regarding safe sex. Identifying your questions will help you to figure out what you need to learn more about.[3]
    • Try talking to a trustworthy older friend or adult about your questions. If you are not comfortable asking someone your questions about sex, then you can always search the internet for answers as well.
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    Ask yourself how well you know and trust your partner. Sex is an intimate act, so it is important to make sure that the person you have sex with is someone that you trust and know well. If you do not know and trust your partner, then you may not want to engage in sex with this person. Some questions you can ask yourself include:[4]
    • Do you trust your partner? You should feel confident that your partner is a basically good person who wouldn't do anything to hurt or humiliate you. This can be hard to gauge, but here's a metric to try: If you wouldn't trust him or her with any of your private thoughts or secrets, then you probably shouldn't be sleeping together.
    • Is your relationship mature enough to include sex? If the majority of your interactions with your partner focus on superficial things, then incorporating sex might be a bad idea. If, on the other hand, you feel like you and your partner help each other grow and improve as people, then you might consider moving on to having sex.
    • Can you discuss sex with your partner? Think about whether or not you'll be able to talk about things such as contraception, STIs, basic anatomy and other sex-related topics with your partner. If you can't comfortably have this discussion with him or her before you have sex, then reconsider whether it’s the right choice.
    • Would you be violating your partner's beliefs? In addition to considering your beliefs and values, think about what your partner believes as well. If he or she might be subject to shunning or punishment for having sex with you, it might be best to hold off.
    • Will you be embarrassed later about sleeping with this person? This might sound silly, but try to think ahead a few years. If you were no longer dating this person, would you be embarrassed to describe him or her to your future partner? If the answer is "yes" or "maybe," consider holding out for something better.
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    Determine if it is legal for you to give consent. The age of consent varies in some states, so you may want to make sure that you can legally have sex before you make your decision. Keep in mind that even if you consent, if you are not within the age of consent, then your partner could get into trouble. If your partner is not within the age of consent, then you could get into trouble.[5]
    • For example, in some states it may be illegal for a 16 year old to have sex with an 18 year old.
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    Consider the things your partner has said to you. If you are considering sex because of things that your partner has said to you, then you may want to evaluate some of their statements. Some people may try to pressure you into sex by saying misleading or convincing things. Common things that people say to convince their partners to have sex include:[6]
    • “If you really loved me, you’d have sex with me.”
    • “Everyone is having sex but us.”
    • “I’ll be really gentle and you’ll love it.”
    • “You’re going to have to do it sometime. Why not now?”
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    Think about what your peers have said. Peers can also be influential in a person’s decision to become sexually active. But deciding to have sex because of things your peers have said is not a good idea. Consider the things that your peers have said that may be influencing your decision. Some common things that peers say about sex include:[7]
    • “You’re a virgin?!”
    • “I have been sexually active since I was 12.”
    • “You wouldn’t understand because you’ve never had sex.”
    • “Sex is the best thing ever. You are really missing out.”

Part 2
Talking About Sex

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    Talk to your partner. Once you have taken time to consider your feelings and evaluate your influences, you may still be considering having sex. If you decide that you are ready and do not feel that your partner or friends are pressuring you, talk to your partner about how you feel.[8]
    • Try saying something like, “I think I might be ready to start having sex. How do you feel about that?”
    • Keep in mind that even if you feel ready, your partner might not feel the same way. If your partner says he/she is not ready, be respectful of his/her choice.
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    Ask your partner about his/her sexual history. If your partner is ready to start having sex too, you should find out about your partner’s sexual history. To protect yourself, it is important to know how many sexual partners your partner has had as well as whether or not your partner has ever had a sexually transmitted infection or STI.[9]
    • Try saying something like, “I understand if you are a bit uncomfortable discussing this with me, but I would like to know more about your sexual history. Have you ever had sex before? If so, how many people? Have you ever had an STI?”
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    Discuss how the two of you would handle serious consequences. Before you enter into a sexual relationship with someone, it is important to think about how you would handle serious consequences such as pregnancy or infection. Do you both have health care providers or a clinic that you could go to for treatment? Are you both willing to accept the risk of pregnancy or infection as part of a sexual relationship? Carefully consider the potential consequences of sex and how you would deal with them.[10]
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    Share your desires and expectations. After you have considered the potential negative outcomes of sex, take time to discuss your desires and expectations for sex as well. Talk about what you want the experience to be like, the first time and beyond. Ask your partner to share his/her expectations as well.[11]
    • For example, do you have certain positions or other things that you want to try while having sex? Do you want to snuggle in bed for a while after sex? Do you want a monogamous relationship with your partner?
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    Make a plan to protect yourselves. Before you have sex, you should also figure what you are going to do to protect yourselves from pregnancy and infection. Plan a visit with your doctor or visit a health clinic to find out what your options are. Many clinics even offer free condoms to help encourage safe sex.[12]
    • For example, you will need to decide if you are going to use condoms alone or if you will also use birth control pills.
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    Consider talking to someone who cares about you. Even after you have discussed your concerns with your partner, you may feel the need to talk with someone else who cares about you and make sure that you are making the right decision. If you are comfortable talking to your parents, that might be a good place to start. If not, consider talking to your doctor, a school counselor, pastor, or an older sibling or friend.[13]
    • Be direct and try saying something like, “I am thinking about becoming sexually active. Do you have any advice for me about that?”
    • Research shows that those who are comfortable talking to their friends about sex are more likely to be able to discuss safe sex with their partner.[14]

Part 3
Enjoying Your First Time

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    Use a condom to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections. The best way to avoid sexually transmitted infections is by delaying or avoiding sexual activity.[15] But if you do not want to wait, be safe and use a condom every time that you have sex. It is a common myth that you cannot become pregnant or contract an STI the first time you have sex. You can become pregnant or infected with an STI any time that you have sex, so it is crucial to protect yourself. When used every time and in the right way, condoms are very effective in preventing STI’s.[16]
    • If your partner protests using condoms, do not give in to the pressure. Make it clear that you are not interested in a sexual relationship unless it is a safe one.[17]
    • You may also consider getting a vaccine to prevent HPV, which is the virus that causes genital warts and cervical cancer. Talk to your doctor about HPV vaccines like Gardasil and Cervarix.[18]
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    Consider using condoms and birth control pills together. Birth control pills alone will not prevent against sexually transmitted infection, but using birth control pills as well as a condom can reduce your risk of pregnancy even further.
    • Condoms are 82% effective against pregnancy, while birth control pills are 91% effective against pregnancy. Therefore, using condoms and birth control pills together can reduce your chances of becoming pregnant even further while still helping to protect you from STIs.[19]
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    Relax. The first time can be very stressful, so you might benefit from doing some stress reduction exercises before you get started. Try taking long, deep breaths to calm yourself before you have sex. Remember that everyone is a little nervous the first time, so there is nothing abnormal about feeling this way.[20]
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    Take your time. Part of what makes sex fun is the foreplay and romance. Take your time and enjoy the moment. Don’t feel like you need to race to finish. Just take your time and enjoy the experience. Try setting a romantic mood by playing some soft music, dimming the lights, and talking for a bit before you start.[21]
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    Tell your partner if you are uncomfortable. If you are not enjoying the experience at any point, you should tell your partner. Likewise, if your partner asks you to stop at any time, you should stop. Sometimes sex can be painful the first time, which is normal. But if you are just not enjoying yourself, it is important to let your partner know so that you can adjust your position or decide to try again some other time.[22]
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    Accept that your first time may be awkward. Although movies and TV might make sex seem like a glamorous, romantic experience, it can actually be very awkward. The first time may be especially awkward because it is such a new experience for you. Just keep in mind that this awkwardness is normal and you should not feel embarrassed about it.[23]
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    Know that you may experience a variety of emotions after your first time. After the sex is over and you have time to think and process the experience, you might begin to feel some emotions that are new to you. It is normal to feel strange after your first sexual experience with someone. If you have trouble coping with these emotions, discuss them with someone you trust, such as a parent, counselor, or close friend.[24]
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    Think of other ways to have a physical relationship with your partner. There are a lot of steps between holding hands and having sex. If it feels like your relationship with your partner is progressing too quickly, try to slow it down with other intimate acts first that don't require sex, such as kissing, petting around, and hugging intimately. You can also talk about sex, marriage, or children, which can stimulate some people. Be affectionate in a way that makes both of you feel more comfortable with the another.


  • Losing your virginity should be a part of positive, satisfying relationship. Make sure you feel like you are at the right age and with the right partner.
  • Never pressure anyone. Think about what it would feel like for someone to pressure you.
  • If you think you aren't ready to talk about it, don't. There's no rush.


  • No one should be forced to have sex. If you've been raped, call emergency services, and go to the hospital or rape crisis center immediately!
  • Understand the age of consent law in the state or country where you live. In most U.S. states, the age of consent is 18. If one partner is under the age of consent and the other is above it, you could face statutory rape charges.
  • Never consider having sex if you're in an abusive relationship.

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Categories: Commitment Issues