How do you know when you’re ready to have sex?
‘Everyone tells you to wait until you’re ready to have sex, but no-one tells you what being ready means!’
Does an alert go off on your phone? Does a certificate arrive on your 16th birthday? In Scotland it is unlawful for people to have sex under the age of 16, but this doesn’t mean everyone should be having sex from that age onwards! And anyway, what do we mean by ‘sex’?
This Australian film clip explains it in pictures:
So, there is no exact formula for readiness.
Whether it’s the first or the 91st time a person has sex, they should expect it to be a mutually pleasurable experience and shouldn’t regret it afterwards. This is less likely if you answer ‘no’ to any of these questions:
• Can we trust each other?
• Do we have strong feelings for each other?
• Do we respect each other?
• Can we talk to each other about worries and concerns?
• Do I feel happy and relaxed when we’re together?
• Do they like me for who I am?
• Can I have a laugh with them?
• Do we both know what we want, and what we don’t want?
• Will we respect each other’s privacy by not telling all our mates?
• Have you planned how to keep safe using condoms and contraception.
Sex should always be consensual – all involved need to express that they want to take part in the sexual activity. Our page on consent tells you more about how people express consent.
Sometimes people think everyone is ‘doing it’ and that there’s something wrong with them if they don’t want to. This can be particularly the case for young men, as shown in this clip from Maine Family Planning: