Being in a relationship doesn't mean that you have to have sex. Even if you've done it once or twice already, you still need to make sure that your boyfriend or girlfriend is as keen as you each time, and that you use contraception.
If you think you might have sex, ask yourself the following questions to help you make up your mind:
- do I trust the person?
- does it feel right?
- do we have contraception? Brook can help with this.
- do I feel able to say 'no' at any point if I change my mind, and will we both be okay with that?
- do I feel under pressure from anyone, such as my partner or friends?
- could I have any regrets afterwards?
- am I thinking of having sex to impress my friends?
- am I thinking about having sex in order to keep my boyfriend or girlfriend happy?
It's your decision
You can always choose whether you want to have sex, whoever you're with. Just because you've done it before, even with the same person, doesn't mean that you have to do it again.
Working out whether you're ready to have sex for the first time is one of life's big decisions. You're the only one who can, and should, decide.
It's better to have an embarrassing talk about sex than to have a sexual encounter before you're ready. Having a caring relationship is most important, and you should both be able to discuss how you feel and what you do and don’t want to do.
When do people start having sex?
Most people have sex for the first time when they're 16 or older. If someone's boasting about having sex, it's possible that they're just pretending. There are no rules about how long you have to be going out with someone before you do it. Being ready happens at different times for everyone.
The law says that it's legal for you to consent (agree) to sex from the age of 16, but this doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the right age for you to start having sex.
If you're under 14, the situation is different because the law says that you can't consent to sex at this age.
If you're under 16, you can get confidential contraceptive and sexual health services.
Find out more about confidentiality, whatever your age, from the NHS Choices website.
Alcohol and sex
Too much alcohol can put you in risky situations. It's hard to stay in control if you're drunk. You should never feel under any pressure to have sex, and you should feel ready and in control before doing so. Alcohol might give you less control over what you want to do, and more likely to not use contraception.
Whatever happens, stay safe so you can avoid Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and an unwanted pregnancy.