A person can get all the information they want or need before their first time having sex:
It’s normal for people to feel excited or happy before they have sex for the first time. Other people might feel scared, anxious or nervous, or a combination of all these emotions at once! There are things someone can do to help them feel more prepared and comfortable to have sex for the first time.
Unsure if you’re ready to have sex?
A person can use our decision-making tool to continue reflecting on whether to have sex or not. We call this tool “Head, Heart, Body” to describe the parts of ourselves we can check in with when making a decision. In the head, a person can reflect on their values, knowledge, and any questions they might have. In the heart, they can consider how they feel emotionally about a decision they’re facing. In the body, a person can take note of the signals they are physically experiencing, such as tightness or looseness, butterflies in the stomach, a sense of expansion in the body, changes in posture or body temperature, etc.
There are also questions that a person can consider when deciding whether or not to have sex for the first time yet. We have listed some of these questions below. If someone answers the following questions with positive answers that feel right for them, then they can put a checkmark in the box beside a symbol on the “Head, Heart, Body” diagram. If they find that they still have unanswered questions or feelings of discomfort, they can put an ‘X’ mark in the box next to the corresponding symbol. If a person places an ‘X’ in any of the boxes, this may mean they need more time to make a decision, that they need to get more information, or that this decision may not be right for them.
Three checkmarks mean that a person is ready to make this decision. They can still decide not to at any time, too – the decision is completely up to them!
Things a person can consider before their first time:
Do they have a partner they trust, feel safe and comfortable with?
Finding a partner who can be trusted and who someone feels safe and comfortable with can help to ease some of the nerves and anxieties that can sometimes come up around the first time they have sex. The more partners can communicate openly with each other, the easier it will be to have an enjoyable first time together. A person can try to think about what it might be like to be naked with their partner. Do they trust them to make them feel comfortable? If they aren’t quite sure, it’s okay for them to take some time to build more trust and open communication into the relationship first, before deciding whether to have sex.
Have they had a discussion about boundaries and the type(s) of sex they want to have?
A person can take some time to talk with their partner about what each of them might be interested in, before having sex. Sometimes, these sexual activities will be the same, but they may also differ between partners, too. It’s okay for different people to want different things, but it’s important for partners to avoid pressuring each other to do anything that the other one might not be ready for. When people take the time to talk about sexual interests and boundaries before sex, it can be easier to get into the moment and stay present during sex.
For people who are choosing to have sex, it can be a good idea to check back in with each other during sex as well. A person can ask their partner if what is happening feels good to them, if anything doesn’t feel good, if they should go faster or slower, or if they want to try something new. Great sex requires communication before, during, and after sex to make sure both people feel comfortable.
It’s okay for someone to change their mind before or during sex. Sometimes, people try something and decide it isn’t for them. If a person feels this way about something, they never have to try that thing again, because if they don’t feel prepared or comfortable having sex, they are less likely to enjoy doing it. Knowing sexual limits is a big part of sexual maturity, and being able to voice any concerns to a partner is part of what makes a strong and healthy relationship.
Do they have protection like birth control and/or condoms if they are trying to prevent pregnancy and/or STIs?
If someone is trying to prevent pregnancy, they may want to visit a doctor for birth control or a pharmacy for condoms. Centre for Sexuality also offers free condoms at our office.
If a person is trying to avoid sexually transmitted infections (STIs), it’s a good idea to use a condom. Knowing how to put a condom on correctly will help make sure the condom works effectively to prevent STIs. Adding a small amount of extra lubricant (water-based or silicone lubes are safe for condoms) to the genitals before applying the condom will help prevent the condom from breaking and make sex more pleasurable for both people.
Plan to spend plenty of time on foreplay to increase sexual excitement and to relax the body before sex:
The body needs time to warm up and become sexually aroused before sex, which is why people may want to spend time on something called foreplay. Foreplay includes activities that are done before, during, and/or after sex to increase this sense of sexual excitement. Some people think of foreplay as: kissing, hugging, cuddling, touching, massage, caressing, digital sex (fingering the vagina, fondling the penis), or oral sex, but it can include any activities that put someone in the mood for sex.
When people are feeling ready for sex, they may want to start slowly, and check in frequently, to make sure both partners are enjoying themselves.
Will sex the first time hurt?
We often get asked if sex hurts the first time. If someone or their partner experiences pain, this is the body’s way of telling them to stop, slow down, or change positions. It’s okay for someone to speak up if something feels uncomfortable or painful to them.
There are a few steps people can take to avoid pain during sex. For instance, feeling prepared beforehand can help a person relax. When the mind is relaxed, the body can relax, too. Tension in the body is one reason why people can experience pain during sex, so finding a comfortable position can help the body feel more relaxed. Adding lubricant to the genitals or a condom can also reduce friction during sex, which can sometimes cause pain. Spending plenty of time on foreplay, moving slowly, and making adjustments can help both people feel more comfortable.
Does the vagina bleed after sex the first time?
We often get asked about the hymen breaking and bleeding the first time someone has sex. Despite the myths that many people hear, the hymen does not actually need to “break” or bleed, since it is a flexible layer of skin inside the vaginal opening of some people that can stretch and move out of the way. To avoid an injury to the hymen or the vaginal wall, a person can add extra lubricant to the genitals or a condom before having sex. Relaxing the body and the vaginal muscles before sex will also help reduce the chance of bleeding. When people feel nervous before sex, they often tense the muscles in the vagina. When the vagina is tense, it is easier to injure or tear the vaginal wall. Most of the time, this is where the blood that can be seen after sex has come from—not from the hymen itself.
How can someone “last longer” during sex?
Many people want to know how long the penis can stay erect (or “last”) during sex. This is different for each person, but in one study of heterosexual couples, the average length of time someone was able to maintain an erection (including during foreplay) was 3-10 minutes long. Maintaining an erection can take practice, and it is okay if the penis does not stay erect for long when a person is starting to be sexually active. There are plenty of activities that can feel pleasurable while someone takes the time to recover after orgasm or after their erection softens.