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Info For Teens

Am I Ready for Sex?

Choosing to be in a sexual relationship is a big decision. There’s a lot to think about. 

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    How can I know when I’m ready?

    There are many important things to consider when deciding whether you’re ready for sex, including

    • your personal values and goals
    • your feelings about the kinds of emotional and physical risks you are willing to take
    • whether this is something you really want to do or if it's something your partner is pushing you into 
    • what sort of relationship you want to have with the person you have sex with
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    How do my personal values and goals fit in?

    When it comes to making decisions about sex, answer these questions about what you value:

    • What messages have you gotten from your family about sex?
    • What are your religious, spiritual, or moral views on sex?
    • Do you want to be in a committed relationship before you have sex? 

    If having sex supports your personal values and goals — rather than conflicts with them — you may be ready.

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    What physical risks am I ready to take?

    Having sex with a partner can be a meaningful way to express yourself.  But there are two important physical risks — sexually transmitted infection and unintended pregnancy.
    Ask yourself these questions about the risks:            

    • Do I know how to reduce the risk of infection with safer sex?  
    • Do I have condoms — and know how to use them? 
    • Do I know how to prevent pregnancy?   
    • Do I have reliable birth control and know how to use it?  
    • Do I know how I would handle an infection or unintended pregnancy?
    • Do I know how my partner would feel about an unintended pregnancy?
    • Will I go for checkups for sexually transmitted infections every year and whenever I take risks?   
    • Have I discussed these issues with my partner?      

    If you’re willing and able to protect yourself and your partner from physical risks, you may be ready.

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    Are most people my age having sex?

    It may seem as though everyone your age is having sex. This can make you feel that you should, too. But the truth is that only about half of high school students have ever had intercourse and the average age when people start having sex is about age 17. Even once they start having sex, most teens don't have sex frequently.  

    How do you feel about these reasons for having sex?             

    • I feel like the only “virgin” in my group of friends.        
    • I want to just “get it over with.”   
    • My partner will break up with me if I don’t have sex.      
    • Having sex will make me popular.         
    • I’ll feel more mature if I have sex.                   

    If you think these are good reasons to have sex, you're not ready.

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    Am I ready to be clear about what I want?

    It’s important to let your partner know what you want — and what you don’t want — before things get sexual. This may not be easy. Maybe it seems like having sex is something that should “just happen.” In fact, you need to be clear about what you want.  Your partner can’t read your thoughts. Talking with your partner is very important. Are you able to talk with your partner about things that are bothering you in general? Are you able to listen to what your partner has to say and to share your own feelings about things respectfully? If you’re not ready to talk openly with your partner about having sex, you're not ready to have sex.

    Does any of the following sound like you?

    • I think I'd be embarrassed to talk with my partner about safer sex or birth control.
    • It’s easier to talk with my partner when I drink alcohol or use other drugs.     
    • I don’t know how to say “no” to my partner.        
    • Saying “no” will hurt my partner’s feelings.   
    • I’m uncomfortable about letting my partner know what kinds of sexual behaviors I do and do not want or like.
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    What do I want from our relationship?

    People who care about and trust each other become intimate — close.  But sex is just one part of a whole relationship. It’s just one way to be intimate. 

    How about the other aspects of your relationship?          

    • Do you treat each other as equals?     
    • Do you trust each other?   
    • Are you honest with each other?     
    • Do you respect each other’s needs and feelings?  
    • Do you care about each other?    
    • Do you share similar interests and values?   
    • Do you have fun together?      
    • Do you both accept responsibility for what you do?   
    • Do you both want to have sex at this time?  

    If these things are true about your relationship, you may be ready to have sex.

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    If I decide to have sex, are there any guidelines?

    Yes:

    1. Both people should want to have sex.
    2. Never pressure someone into having sex.
    3. Be honest about your sexual feelings.
    4. Make sure sex is pleasurable for both people.
    5. Use birth control if you don't want an unintended pregnancy, and protect yourself from STDs.
    6. Be clear with each other about what you want to do and don't want to do.

    When to have sex is a personal choice. We usually make better decisions when we think through the possible benefits and the risks. It’s helpful to talk things through with someone you trust — a parent, a friend, a professional counselor, or someone else who cares about you and what will be good for you.

    A good sex life is one that keeps in balance with everything you’re about — your health, values, education and career goals, relationships with other people, and your feelings about yourself.



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