There can be a lot of pressure to lose your virginity - that is, to have sexual intercourse for the first time. Having sex just because you want to lose your virginity, or because you think all your friends are doing it, is something you may regret later. Sexual intercourse can lead to pregnancy. So, before having sex you should think about whether you need to use contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy, and condoms to prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
You might feel lots of anxieties, especially the first time you have sexual intercourse (often referred to as 'having sex'). You may feel embarrassed about how you look without your clothes on, or worried about your privacy being disturbed. It's natural to worry, but good communication can really help. You should be able to talk to your partner about your concerns and how you feel about having sex for the first time. Your partner might be worried too, and talking can really ease the tension. If you're too shy, or you're not able to talk about these things with your partner, then you probably shouldn't be having sex!
Can a girl become pregnant the first time she has sexual intercourse?
Yes, a girl can become pregnant the first time she has sexual intercourse. So, you must use contraception the first time you have sexual intercourse, if you don't want to risk becoming a parent.
What about the law?
The age of consent, that is the age at which it is legal to have sex, depends on which country you are in, and in the United States the law is different in different states (see our sex laws page for further details).
In England and Wales, the law says it's illegal for a boy or a girl to have sex with a girl or a boy who is under sixteen.
Sexual intercourse and love
For some people sexual feelings are bound up with love and close relationships. Some people think sexual intercourse should only happen within marriage. For other people sex and love are two different things.
What is important is that you feel good about yourself and what you are doing, and that you keep yourself safe. Being safe means not only thinking about physical risks such as pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). But also emotional risks such as the regret you may feel afterwards.
When are you ready for sex?
There is no absolute right age to start having sex. What matters is whether it is the right time for you. It also depends on what you mean by 'having sex'. There are many ways in which you can give and receive sexual pleasure without having sexual intercourse.
Giving each other massages, kissing and hugging can be very passionate. It's a way of sharing and showing love. For some people these activities can be more fulfilling than sexual intercourse.
You may feel that you are not ready emotionally. Being pushed into having sex could mean you regret it later on.
You get pressure from people talking about sex. You think, 'I've got to go and see what it's like'. It's hard, but you've got to resist and do what you want.
It's very important not to feel pressurised into having sex when you don't really want to. Just because your friends say they are 'doing it' doesn't mean they are.
Thinking through all the implications of having sex can be a useful way of helping you arrive at a decision. There are lots of reasons why people don't want to have sex. You may feel that you are not ready emotionally. Being pushed into having sex could mean you regret it later on. Some people have quite strong religious or cultural beliefs. Others just want to wait.
Some people call this decision to wait abstinence". The decision to abstain from having sex can be either a long-term decision or a short-term one. Some people decide that they do not want to start having sex until they are married or in a significant long-term relationship. Other people may decide that having sex isn't the right thing for them at this particular time. Later on they may meet a person who they want and feel ready to have sex with. The decision whether to have sex or not is an important one. You should do what is right for you. It should be an informed decision, and not one based on fear or pressure from others.
But when a boy and girl do decide they want to have sexual intercourse, they should think about using a contraceptive unless they want to become parents. Young gay men should also think about using condoms. Condoms can help stop infections like HIV as well as reducing the risk of getting pregnant.
If you're thinking about having sexual intercourse, why not read our ready for sex questions to help you decide if you're ready?
How exactly do you have sexual intercourse? What position is best?
Sexual intercourse between a boy and a girl starts with both of them getting sexually excited as a result of kissing, stroking, caressing, rubbing and touching each other. This sexual excitement will result in certain physical signs of sexual excitement. For the girl, the vagina, the sexual opening between the legs, begins to moisten. The boy will get an erection, which means his penis will get bigger and harden. It is important that this stimulation goes on for long enough, because if the girl is not sexually excited enough, then her vagina will not be lubricated and moist enough, and it will be difficult for the boy's penis to enter the girl's vagina.
There are quite a number of different positions in which you can have sexual intercourse. One very common position involves both the boy and the girl lying down, with the boy lying on top
When the couple are both ready to have sexual intercourse (and this includes the boy putting a condom on if he is going to use one), it is probably easiest if either the boy or the girl uses their hand to guide the penis into the vagina. Then, once the penis is inside, the couple need to move their bodies so that the penis pushes into the vagina and then pulls partly out again. After a while this movement can lead to orgasm (coming or climaxing) for one or both of them.
There are quite a number of different positions in which you can have sexual intercourse. One very common position involves both the boy and the girl lying down, with the boy lying on top (This is often referred to as the missionary position). Alternatively the girl can be on top or both the boy and the girl can lie on their sides. It is probably easiest to choose one of these positions if you are having sexual intercourse for the first time. However, you can also have sexual intercourse with both the boy and the girl sitting down, one on the other, or both can be standing up. What is most important about whichever position you choose, is that it provides stimulation and enjoyment for both of you.
Will first time sex hurt?
Many boys and girls are concerned that it will hurt the first time they have sexual intercourse. It can hurt and some girls do bleed a little bit. The bleeding usually occurs because the girl has a hymen which breaks the first time she has sexual intercourse.
The hymen is a small piece of thin skin which goes across the opening of the vagina and protects it when she is young. It has some gaps in it where the blood can come out when she has her period. Sometimes a girl might already have broken her hymen without knowing about it. For example, this can happen as a result of playing sports or horse riding.