This is guide one of a series of guides I will be preparing to anchor to the side of my blog. One of the things I get asked the most is “When am I ready to have sex?” If you haven’t read a whole lot on sex and sexuality you may not know that sex is a huge spectrum of experiences! It’s not just penetration. It’s identities, orientations, experiences, feelings, thoughts, emotions. It might sound wishy-washy, but the deeper you go into that the greater understanding and respect you’ll have for sex, and for yourself! This first part will be about getting some of the basic necessities down, prior to the actual having-of-the-sex.
Remember that these steps are not necessarily in the order that it will happen for you. Some of this may be heavily influenced by my opinion. (EX: That you should use both condoms and birth control. While it aids more protection that using one or the other alone, many people do not choose to do both.)
Birth control, babies, and doctors too!
You will first want to discuss birth control options with your partner. There is no such thing as safe sex, only safer sex! That being said, you can definitely take steps to make sure that you and your partner are well protected against unintended pregnancies with the options that are available to you.
Condoms are important as a method of preventing pregnancy, as they act as a physical barrier preventing the sperm from reaching the egg. Typically you will see people using or talking about male condoms, a sheath that goes over the penis. There are also female condoms which can be inserted into the vagina. The female condom can be a little more cumbersome than the male condom in application, but it has the benefit of covering more of the exterior skin-to-skin contact between partners which can help prevent STDs.
Most penises will fit average sized condoms. Most condoms you’ll find are for average sized penises. If your penis is larger or smaller than average (I would say less than four inches, or seven plus inches) you may require a condom of a different size. Sometimes girth can play a part in how comfortable a condom fits, and you may want to look for a baggier condom. For your average condom I recommend Trojan Thins (they come in both large and average sizes) and Crown Skinless Skin condoms. Buying condoms online can save you a lot of money. I recommend Condom Depot
Next you’ll want to discuss birth control. If you are in a same-sex relationship this may not be as pertinent to you, but it could also be a great time to look into birth control if you are interested in it for other reasons than preventing pregnancy. Hormonal birth control is awesome at preventing pregnancy when used correctly, especially when paired with a condom! You will want to talk to your doctor about what type of birth control is right for you and your needs. Planned Parenthood also has a great quiz about this. Click here! If you want to read more about different methods of birth control to prepare for your appointment, click here.
When aroused the vagina begins to expand to allow for penetration, and the walls of the vagina begin to self-lubricate. The amount of lubrication will vary from woman to woman. Men will also “self-lubricate” a bit with pre-cum, although not all men produce pre-cum in any great quantity. It is important to have lubrication on hand to aid in whatever the body is already producing. This will help make sex more pleasurable (it will prevent chaffing, keep things slick) and it will also help prevent the condom from breaking. You can get lubricated condoms, but often the lubrication is only sufficient to aid in the initial penetration. I recommend Liquid Silk, Maximus, or Astroglide lubes. Wet Platinum is a great lube if you ever plan on having sex in the shower as it won’t be rinsed away by the water. EdenFantasys is a great place to look for and buy different lubes online.
It helps to start good habits early on and stick to them. Make an appointment to get tested for STDs. While you may not have been born with one, you may have contracted one from other sexual encounters that did not involve penetration. Many people do not know all the ways in which an STD can be transmitted, and sometimes STDs do not show signs or symptoms. Get tested often so you have one less thing to worry about! Women are often scheduled for pap smears around this time as well – a test done by your doctor or gyno where they take a small sample from your cervix to make sure everything is A-OK. It could be beneficial to schedule this at the same time or have it on your mind as you consider visiting a doctor for all these other reasons. Read more about STDs and safer sex here.
Know your anatomy
This point includes both knowing your body and knowing what is normal for your body. You will want to be familiar with all the shapes and sizes of your body so you can notice when something abnormal appears. Yep – this includes smells, and discharge too. But it’s not all so bad. Knowing your anatomy can give you huge boosts in your sexual IQ! Do you know where the clit is? Do you know where the perineum is? What about the ass? The vagina? The clitoral hood? The vulva? What is a vulva? What about a labia? Minora? Majora? All of these different spots should be explored, and understood. Get a mirror – explore. Masturbation can also be a huge help in preparing for sex. If you know how to get yourself off and what an orgasm feels like, you will be more likely to be able to achieve pleasure during sex. If you don’t know how to get yourself off, how can you help your partner figure it out? Read about male and female anatomy here and become an expert!
Lastly, you’ll want to have a serious conversation with your partner about pregnancy. What would you do if you were to get pregnant? Are you pro-choice, is your partner pro-life? It’s not as important to know exactly what you would do if the situation occurs, but rather that you talk about the reality that you are having sex, and sex creates babies. If you are in a same sex relationship you can use this as an opportunity to bring up the discussion, though it also may not be quite as dire. This depends on the nature of your relationship. You can read more about pregnancy options here.
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I’m a firm believer that doing these things is a huge part of being mature enough to have sex for the first time. Sex is fun, but like anything else it does have consequences! Luckily we can prepare for a lot of those consequences but being on top of our birth control options, getting tested regularly, and being prepared for the unexpected. Remember: abstinence is a valid option if you are not ready to have sex, but abstinence in itself is not birth control. You can’t control something that isn’t even happening. So if you’re having sex, thinking about having sex, or want to be prepared in case you start having sex, get on top of it and take care of yourself.
Why do you want to have sex, anyways?
There are a lot of really awesome reasons to want to start having sex. The most important reason though is because you want to. Never have sex – whether it is the first time or the thousandth time – because you feel pressured by the desires of someone else. If someone is willing to leave you, pressure you, hurt you, or insult you and your choices because you are not wanting to have sex with them, they do not deserve to be with you and they certainly don’t deserve to have sex with you. So make sure that when you have sex, it’s because YOU want to.
Of course there are a lot of other things to consider aside from simply wanting to have sex. The legal age of consent is an important thing to remember. While adolescent sexuality is a big issue (particularly in the United States) I won’t actually endorse having sex before the legal AOC. I will say, however, that it happens. A lot of people begin to experiment with their sexuality or have sex for the first time in their teens. The bottom line is that whether or not you’re having sex, it doesn’t hurt to prepare for the likelihood that you will have sex at some point.
I’m not here to judge why you should or shouldn’t have sex, but you need to make sure it feels right to you. Is it because you’re in a committed relationship and you are ready to start getting more physically intimate? Is it because you’ve found someone you’re really comfortable with and you want to experiment? Is it because you found someone that really turns you on, and you want to give it a shot and feel like you’re prepared to do it?
A lot of what you learn about sex and sexuality is learned through experience. Practice. Trial and error. A lot of jumping into your first experiences goes on gut feeling. You may change your mind on what kinds of experiences you’re looking for. What is important is that you do your best to judge at each new experience that it is something you truly want to do, are comfortable doing, and are ready to do.
Please feel free to let me know if there is anything you want to see added to this, or anything you think I missed.