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Consent and being ready for sex

How do I know I’m ready for sex?

Most people have sex for the first time when they’re 16 or older. Don’t rush into sex, it’s a big deal.

  • Do you feel comfortable with your partner?
  • Have you talked about sex together?
  • Is there the right physical and emotional connection between you?
  • Have you discussed contraception?
  • Does it fit in with your values?

Take a look at the online material in the further information section and get your head straight.

Certainly don’t feel under any pressure. Lots of people say they’re having sex to fit in and impress their mates, when they’re not. Remember there’s lots of ways to show someone how much you care about them without having sex.

Consent

You’ve probably heard the word ‘consent’ and discussed it at school. It means two people being equally willing and saying ‘yes’ to sex.

Then there’s the ‘age of consent’ – which is 16 – when the law says you can have sex. If you’re under 16 and having sex with someone of a similar age, and you’re not being forced into it are highly unlikely to get into trouble.

Whatever your age you must understand the issues around consenting to sex and sexual activity. More information about sex and the law is available on the CPS website and on Brook's website.

What consent isn’t

So, if someone says no to sex, is asleep or unconscious, they’re not consenting to sex. Forcing sex on someone who doesn’t want it, or can’t say ‘no’, is completely off limits.

Also, if you’ve had sex with someone before, that doesn’t mean you can or have to do it again. If you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, it doesn’t mean you have to do anything sexual with them, if you don’t want to.

Under 16 and pregnant? Don’t be scared to ask for help

Although sex under the age of consent is against the law, you and your partner are unlikely to get into trouble, as long as there isn’t a big age gap between you and you ‘consented’ to sex. It’s much more important that you get help to find out if you’re pregnant.

Dealing with regrets

You may regret having sex, feel embarrassed, full of shame or guilty. If you feel this way talk to someone you trust or look up Childline’s page in the further information section.

How do I know if I am ready for sex?

Question illustration

There’s a great website called ‘Besavvy’ which has answers to loads of questions about being ready to have sex for the first time or second or third! It includes advice on how to practice saying “No”. You can take an on-line quiz on the Playin’ it safe website to find out is you are really ready – be honest with yourself!

Protect your emotional well-being and talk to someone you trust if you’re feeling pressured

People illustration

Remember to go at your own pace and don’t have sex to please other people

If you’re under 16 and think that you may be pregnant don’t be scared. Help is available from the specialist midwife on 07903 567 042

Further information

Hear natasha's story about having to deal with 'Sexual pressures'.

Some people regret having had sex for whatever reason and feelings of embarrassment, shame or guilt can be overwhelming and distressing. If this is something affecting you, Childline has advice on dealing with such emotions, or you should identify someone you trust and talk to them about it.

Remember sexual health is not just about sex. There are other ways to show someone that you love them other that having sex – 101 ways in fact. See how on the Knowledge is Power webpage

Online Playin’ it safe quiz on sex for the first time.

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