Are you ready to have sex?

Relationships & Sex

Being in a relationship for the first time or with someone you really like can be an exciting and scary thing at the same time! You're probably feeling new emotions and you might be having sexual feelings and be starting to think about having sex too. It's an exciting time but there are some things to think about.

Deciding to have sex

It can be difficult to decide whether it's the right time for you to have sex. You should know that whatever anyone else might say, the decision to have sex for the first time or anytime is YOURS. It might feel ok to do it or it might not feel ok. You need to trust your instincts and do what is right for you. How long should you wait before you have sex with someone? Three dates, six months, the first time you're with them? The truth is, there is no right or wrong answer, it's down to what you and your partner want, and what you feel comfortable with.

You should know that the law says that you should not have sex until you are 16 years old (this is called the 'age of consent' and applies to gay and straight sexual activity).


Some of the things you might want to think about before you make your decision are:

Percentage graphic

Just because everyone says they are having sex or 'doing it' doesn't mean that they are

Did you know that 66% of boys and 75% of girls in England do not have sex before they are 16? So if you haven't done it yet don't think you're the odd one out because you're not!

Make sure that you really are ready to have sex

Check out the RU Ready quiz or the checklist to think through the issues. If you find yourself answering yes to most of these questions then you're probably ready, but remember even once you do feel ready – it still doesn't mean you have to!

R U Ready Quiz

R U Ready Checklist

Take your time so that you don't end up wishing you hadn't

  • Know why you want to have sex. For some people, sex and love ideally go together but it's up to you.
  • Having sex with someone just to please them or to try and make someone love you is a bad idea and you may well end up regretting it.
  • There are many ways of showing someone you love them without having sex with them.
  • Someone who really loves you won't put pressure on you to have sex with them. Here are 50 suggestions, from young people in SW London, about how to show someone you love them without having sex. If you can think of any other way, just let us know..

Remember that it is always OK to say No to sex. Don't get pressured into doing anything you don't want to – always go with your feelings – it is your decision and no one else's. If you feel uncomfortable then it is not right for you: look after yourself – say No and you'll feel better.

If you do decide to have sex remember you'll be able to relax and enjoy it so much more if you're not worrying about infections or pregnancy so get this sorted! And talk to each other – no-one is an expert, and it can take a while to find out what the other person likes and doesn't like. Take care and enjoy!

Protect yourself!

Some young people say they feel embarrassed talking about contraception and protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections because they think it is not romantic and might spoil the moment. Looking after each other in a relationship is a very romantic thing to do. Being in love often means wanting to protect your partner and this includes wanting to protect each other from pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. It is important that you talk about what protection you will use BEFORE you start having sex. That way, when the moment comes you don't need to talk about it, as you will have both discussed it and come prepared.

As well as deciding on your chosen method, make sure you know how to use it. So if you are using condoms, make sure you understand how to use them properly.

Learn how to use a condom

REMEMBER: Safer is sexier!

Find out why


You can get confidential advice and free condoms and contraception from sexual health services near to you.

Choose your area from the list below