Am I ready?
The right time to have sex is different for everyone, but there are a few things you should think about before you make the decision to have sex. One of the best ways to know if you are ready is if you feel safe. Feeling safe may mean something slightly different to everyone, but it usually includes having talked with a parent, doctor or other trusted adult, and having a partner who respects you and your decision to stay safe. Remember, if you’re not ready to talk about this stuff ahead of time, you probably aren’t ready to have sex yet.
There are many reasons why you may not be ready to have sex yet and that’s totally OK.
Reasons why you may not be ready to have sex:
- Your partner or friends are pressuring you to have sex.
- You and your partner have not talked about using birth control or protecting yourselves from HIV and other STIs.
- Having sex means different things to you and your partner. After you’ve had sex, will you be upset if you and your partner disagree about what it meant (like is it a symbol of commitment or is it just hooking up?) Are you prepared to deal with it if your partner feels different about it than you do?
- Something is going on with your (or your partner’s) family, safety, emotions, or physical health, that might make having sex right now more risky to you or your partner.
- There is a way to feel closer or more connected to your partner without having sex.
- You are not sure you can trust your partner to only go as far as you want to go.
- You are only comfortable having sex when you are using alcohol or other drugs.
In case you think you might be ready to have sex, here is a checklist I made to help my friends think about important stuff before having sex.
- You feel comfortable talking to your partner in advance about his/her health, past sexual history, history of STI and HIV testing, and willingness to practice safer sex.
- You feel comfortable talking with your partner, in advance, about what kind of birth control you will use to avoid getting pregnant.
- You and/or your partner will take responsibility to use condoms and birth control in order to prevent STIs and unintended pregnancy each time you have sex. (You and your partner should both be comfortable with the method that is chosen.)
- You know how to get access to condoms and birth control before you have sex and emergency contraception if you need it afterwards.
- You’ve talked with a trusted adult (maybe a parent, doctor, teacher, family planning counselor) about it. And there are people who you feel comfortable talking to if you have other questions or if it doesn’t work out as planned.
- You and your partner have discussed what sex means to each of you.
It may seem overwhelming at first, but the bottom line is that the question of whether you’re ready to have sex or not can only be answered by you. You never have to have sex: not because you turned someone on, not because you’re turned on, not because you are dating, not because you think everyone else is having sex, or even because you are married. It is always okay to say no if you are not ready. Only have sex when it’s right for YOU.
If you want to talk with someone about this decision, you can call the MA Sexual Health Helpline at (877) MA-SEX-ED or (877) 627-3933.