Worried? Had unprotected sex? We're here to help.
Am I ready at a glance:
Only you can know the answer to that question. Deciding when to have sex for the first time is a big deal, and it can be a tough decision. It's really helpful to talk it out with someone you trust — a parent, a friend, a health care provider, or someone else who cares about you.
Sex can be risky for your body — STDs and unintended pregnancy are no joke. But sex can also have emotional risks. Sex before you're ready for it, sex with someone you don't trust or respect (or who doesn't trust or respect you), or sex that doesn't feel good can lead to some really stressful feelings. And a healthy sex life shouldn't be stressful.
We usually make better decisions when we think through all the good things and bad things. A great sex life is one that fits in with everything you're about, including:
Vaginal, oral, and anal sex, as well as genital touching, can lead to STDs. Vaginal sex can cause pregnancy. Birth control protects against pregnancy, and condoms protect against STDs AND pregnancy.
Even if it seems like everyone your age is having sex, it’s probably not true. Only about half of high school students have ever had sex, and the average age when people start having sex is 17. But even once they have had sex, most teens don't have it very often.
Don’t let what you think your friends are doing affect such an important decision. You’re not ready if the reason you want to have sex sounds anything like:
Before you have sex, it's important to feel comfortable telling your partner what you need and what you're comfortable with. It's not always easy to talk about sex, but no one can read your thoughts.
A good rule is: if you're not ready to talk openly with your partner about sex, you're not ready to have sex. Ask yourself:
1. Both of you want to have sex without pressure from each other or anyone else.
2. You’re being honest about your feelings. Your partner should be honest, too.
3. You and your partner will do what you need to do, like using condoms, dams, and getting tested, to prevent STDs.
4. If you have vaginal sex, use birth control and condoms to protect against pregnancy. (You should also use condoms to protect against STDs.)
5. Both of you feel comfortable saying “stop” and “no” in any situation.
Some people aren't ever interested in having sex. This is called asexuality. But just because you're not ready for sex right now doesn't mean you won't be ready someday — maybe with a different person, when you're older, or when you're in a more committed relationship.
People have different sex drives and they can change over time — so don't worry. Lots of things affect sex drives, like stress, hormones, life experiences, illness, medicines, how comfortable you are in a relationship, how safe you feel, and how attracted you are to someone.