It can be hard to know if and when you are ready for sex. You may be feeling a lot of emotions at once - nervous, happy, scared, excited. Or maybe you're not sure how you are feeling at all.
You can think of being sexual with another person as an expression of closeness and intimacy. But different people want different things out of a relationship. Some people want trust and intimacy and other people just want the opportunity to have sex. Others want both or neither.
Your decision to have sex is influenced by a lot of things, like parents, friends, TV, films, what we learn at school and your society and religion. Alice, 15 says "It's a lot of pressure, peer pressure, people talk about it at school and stuff and you just don't feel like you fit in unless you've done it."
Remember that it's more important to do what is right for you, not what the people around you may be doing. And it's definitely ok to take your time about your decision or to say no.
It's also important for you and your partner to be on the same wavelength - make sure you are both ok with sex before going ahead. And if you don't have a partner, and are thinking about casual sex, there is just as much reason to think seriously about what it is you are going to do. Remember that condoms are the only form of contraception that will protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancy.
First things first
The first thing to remember is that there are many different kinds of sex. For example, oral sex is sex, and not just a way of compromising with a partner to avoid penetrative vaginal sex or anal sex. Lauren, 15 says "you didn't want to go all the way, but you didn't want to seem frigid either."
Other things, like kissing and cuddling don't really come under the definition of sex. We can think of them as pleasurable sexual activities that don't have to lead to penetrative sex.
Before having sex with someone, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Can we trust each other?
- Do we respect each other?
- Do they like me for who I am?
- Do I feel comfortable in what I'm about to do?
- Will we respect each other's privacy by not telling our mates?
- Have we planned how to keep safe by using condoms and contraception?
If you answered NO to a lot of these questions, then you are probably not ready to have sex. Give yourself more time and think about these questions again. You can also have this conversation with someone you trust, like a parent or good friend. Megan, 18 says "I waited with my boyfriend for ages just until I felt ready, until I trusted him and that took a long time."