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Deciding if you’re ready to have sex is a big decision that’s very personal. It's important to think it through and wait until you're sure you're ready.

How do I know when I’m ready to have sex?

Deciding when to have sex is a big deal. It’s an important decision that only you can make. But it can be really helpful to talk it out with someone you trust — like a parent, a friend, or someone else who cares about you.

Sex can be really great, but it also has risks — STDs and unintended pregnancy are no joke. But sex can also have emotional risks. Sex before you're ready, 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 sex shouldn't be stressful.

A healthy sex life fits in with everything you're about, including:

  • Your personal values

  • Your school and career goals

  • The emotional and physical risks you're willing to take

Think about:

  • If having sex is something you really want to do, or something you’re being pressured to do

  • Whether family and friends will support your decision (and how important that is to you)

  • Your feelings about who you are and what you're comfortable doing

  • Whether you want to be in a committed relationship before you have sex (and if that’s true for your partner too)

  • What the pros and cons are - and especially thinking through any cons before deciding

Is everyone else already having sex?

Even if it seems like everyone your age is having sex, they’re probably not. Only about half of high school students have ever had vaginal sex, and the average age when people start having sex is 18. But even once they have had sex, most teens don't have it very often. And lots of teens who've had sex say they wish they’d waited.

You’re not ready to have sex if the reason you want to sounds anything like:

  • I’m the only virgin in my group of friends.        

  • I want to “get it over with.”   

  • My boyfriend or girlfriend will break up with me if I don’t have sex.      

  • Having sex will make me popular.        

  • I’ll feel older if I have sex.        

What if I don’t want to have sex at all?

Some people aren't ever interested in having sex. This is called asexuality. But just because you don’t have to have sex now doesn’t mean you’ll never want to.

People have different sex drives — an urge or interest in having sex. 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. How important sex is in your life can change over time — so don't worry if it’s not something you’re interested in right now. That’s totally normal and ok.