There can be lot of pressure to lose your virginity – that is, to have sexual intercourse for the first time. Having sex with someone just because you want to lose your virginity, or because you think all your friends are doing it, is something you may regret later.
You might feel lots of anxieties, especially the first time you ‘go all the way’ – have sex. You may feel embarrassed about how you look without your clothes on, or worried about your privacy being disturbed. It’s natural to feel some worries but good communication will really help to prevent you feeling embarrassed or worried. You should be able to talk to your partner about how you feel about having sex for the first time, and about any concerns you may have. Your partner might be worried, too. Being relaxed and able to share things with your partner will really ease the tension. And if you’re too shy, or you’re not able to talk about these things with your partner – then you probably shouldn’t be having sex!
Having sexual intercourse – when a boy’s hard penis goes inside a girl’s vagina, or even just touches the outside of her vagina – is what leads to pregnancy. So, before having sexual intercourse you should think about whether you need to use contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy, and condoms to prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
Can a girl become pregnant the first time she has sexual intercourse?
Yes, a girl can become pregnant the first time she has sexual intercourse. So, you must use contraception the first time you have sexual intercourse, if you don’t want to risk becoming a parent.
What about the law?
The age of consent, that is the age at which it is legal to have sex, depends on which country you are in, and in the United States the law is different in different states (see our teens, sex and the law page for further details).
In England and Wales, the law says it’s illegal for a boy or a girl to have sex with a girl or a boy who is under sixteen.
Sex and love
For some people sexual feelings are bound up with love and close relationships. Some people think sex should only happen within marriage. For some people sex and love are two different things.
What is important is that you feel good about yourself and what you are doing, and that you keep yourself safe. Being safe means not only thinking about physical risks such as pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). But also emotional risk such as the regret you may feel afterwards.
When are you ready for sex?
There is no absolute right age to start having sex. What matters is whether it is the right time for you. It also depends on what you mean by ‘having sex’. There are many ways in which you can give and receive sexual pleasure without having sexual intercourse.
Giving each other massages, kissing and hugging can be very passionate. It’s a way of sharing and showing love. For some people these activities can be more fulfilling than sexual intercourse.
You may feel that you are not ready emotionally. Being pushed into having sex could mean you regret it later on.
You get pressure from people talking about sex. You think, ‘I’ve got to go and see what it’s like’. It’s hard, but you’ve got to resist and do what you want.
It’s very important not to feel pressurised into having sex when you don’t really want to. Just because your friends say they are ‘doing it’ doesn’t mean they are.
Thinking through all the implications of having sex can be a useful way of helping you arrive at a decision. There are lots of reasons why people don’t want to have sex. You may feel that you are not ready emotionally. Being pushed into having sex could mean you regret it later on. Some people have quite strong religious or cultural beliefs. Others just want to wait.
Some people call this decision to wait ‘abstinence’. The decision to abstain from having sex can be either a long-term decision or a short-term one. Some people decide that they do not want to start having sex until they are married or in a significant long-term relationship. Other people may decide that having sex isn’t the right thing for them at this particular time. Later on they may meet a person who they want and feel ready to have sex with. The decision whether to have sex or not is an important one. You should do what is right for you. It should be an informed decision, and not one based on fear or pressure from others.
But when a boy and girl do decide they want to have sexual intercourse, they should think about using a contraceptive unless they want to become parents. Gay men should also think about using condoms. Condoms can help stop infections like HIV as well as reducing the risk of getting pregnant.
How exactly do you have sexual intercourse? What position is best?
Sexual intercourse between a boy and a girl starts with both of them getting sexually excited as a result of kissing, stroking, caressing rubbing and touching each other. This sexual excitement will result in certain physical signs of sexual excitement. For the girl, the vagina, the sexual opening between the legs begins to moisten. The boy will get an erection, which means his penis will get bigger and harden. It is important that this stimulation goes on for long enough, because if the girl is not sexually excited enough, then her vagina will not be lubricated and moist enough, and it will be difficult for the boy’s penis to enter the girl’s vagina.
There are quite a number of different positions in which you can have sexual intercourse. One very common position involves both the boy and the girl lying down, with the boy lying on top
When the couple are both ready to have sexual intercourse (and this includes the boy putting a condom on if he is going to use one), it is probably easiest if either the boy or the girl uses their hand to guide the penis into the vagina. Then, once the penis is inside, the couple need to move their bodies so that the penis pushes into the vagina and then pulls partly out again. After a while this movement can lead to orgasm (coming or climaxing) for one or both of them.
There are quite a number of different positions in which you can have sexual intercourse. One very common position involves both the boy and the girl lying down, with the boy lying on top (This is often referred to as the missionary position). Alternatively the girl can be on top or both the boy and the girl can lie on their sides. It is probably easiest to choose one of these positions if you are having sexual intercourse for the first time. However, you can also have sexual intercourse with both the boy and the girl sitting down, one on the other, or both can be standing up. What is most important about whichever position you choose, is that it provides stimulation and enjoyment for both of you.
Will first time sex hurt?
Many boys and girls are concerned that it will hurt the first time they have sexual intercourse. It can hurt and some girls do bleed a little bit. The bleeding usually occurs because the girl has a hymen which breaks the first time she has sexual intercourse.
The hymen is a small piece of thin skin which goes across the opening of the vagina and protects it when she is young. It has some gaps in it where the blood can come out when she has her period. Sometimes a girl might already have broken her hymen without knowing about it. For example, this can happen as a result of playing sports or horse riding.
Some accounts from young people
Some first time sex stories have a happy ending, while others are full of regrets. Below is a selection of typical experiences.
At their house
“I lost my virginity when I was 13 and I still am 13 today. It hurt bad and I was so scared. I knew I couldn’t tell anyone except my friend wh
o was there. The worst part of my story is that the guy was 18. This is how my story goes.
“One night I stayed the night at my friend’s house. We were talking to these guys I had only known for like a couple of months. They said that they would come and pick us up from her apartment. So we got ready and then they came. I didn’t think that anything would happen because I had gone and hung-out with them before at their house. But this time it was different. My whole life was about to change.
“When we got to their house we just hung out and watched T.V. Then I laid on his bed and he jumped on me while my friend and his brother were watching a movie and making out. He started to finger me and then all the sudden I realize I am having sex. I think what made me not say no was because my friend had already had it and I wanted to, but I didn’t think it would ever happen in a million years and especially when my friend and his brother were in the room.
“Well me and my friend haven’t told anyone and I am too scared to say anything to anyone because I don’t want people to think I am a hoe or I am easy or anything. But now I have to live with the guilt of not being able to tell my mom or anyone at that. Me and my mom have talked about sex and I said that I would never do it unless I was like older but I lied to myself and my mom. It made and still makes me feel so bad. I feel like kind of dirty now, but I think eventually I will get over it in time.”
Deciding to wait
“When we’d been going out a while everyone started treating us like a couple. People assume because you’re going out you have to do everything together. And, once you’re an item its only a matter of time before they assume that you’re having sex.
“But you see, we’ve sort of decided to wait a bit longer before we do it. I mean, we have kissed and felt each other and all that sort of thing, you know, maybe just going a little bit further each time, and sometimes I have just wanted to get it over with. You know, the first time – I’ve heard people say, ‘you might as well get it over with, it isn’t very good so why wait?’”
“I’d known Simon for ages, but it wasn’t until Year 11 that we started going out. That was two years ago now and we’ve been together ever since. After about a year we both felt we wanted to have sex, go all the way. We’d nearly done it anyway what with all the snogging and fumbling we’d done on sofas and at discos. Because we were friends and talked a lot we talked about sex too.
“I know we were both really nervous, but talking and laughing really helped. Plus we were able to make sure nothing drastic happened. Although we loved each other loads we certainly didn’t want a baby at seventeen or to put our health at risk. So we went together to the clinic, sorted things out so that there wouldn’t be any worries.
“We made sure we picked the right time and the right place too. It would have been awful for someone to walk in on us, during our private time. What was it like? – Well it’s difficult to describe because I’d never felt anything like it before really. I’d had orgasms through masturbation before, but sharing yourself with someone you love and respect was really good. It brought us closer together.”
A great party?
“I was round at Terry’s. It was a great party. Loads of people were there. I was just standing around with my mate Steve and I see this girl over his shoulder. She smiles at me, right, so I give it the business. You know, I talk to Steve but every now and then laugh really loud and look at her again, smiling loads. She kept smiling back, so I moved in. We get talking and everything’s going fine. She laughed at my jokes. Next thing I know she’s looking at me all soppy and we kiss. Then it all got out of control. She’s whispering to me to come upstairs – you know – and I said, ‘you go on, I’ll come in a minute, I’ve got to go to the loo first’, or something.
“Anyway she goes off and Steve comes over. He’s really excited, going on about ‘taking my chances’ and ‘having it off’. I didn’t know what to say. I mean I was really excited about the kiss still and he’s saying that I must be a right stud to pull a girl like that. It is true, I have had lots of girlfriends but it doesn’t mean I’m experienced. I mean, I’m really good at the chatting up and smooth-talking but I’ve never actually done it. Slept with someone. But I couldn’t tell him that could I?
“Anyway I went upstairs, and found her in the bedroom, with all the lights off on top of a pile of coats. She had taken off half her clothes. I had been intending to say something. All the way upstairs I’d been thinking, ‘tell her, tell her you’re a virgin.’ But how could I? I just knew she thought I wanted to have sex. I was thinking, ‘I don’t want it like this, what about protection and that?’
“It was awful, looking back, but I did it. I fumbled around and we were hardly talking so eventually, after a bit of wrestling I got it in and it lasted about 10 seconds. I just got dressed and left. I kept thinking, ‘well I’ve done it but what could it have been like?’