For people who’ve never had sex before, thinking about first-time sex might cause a lot of different feelings. Curiosity, confusion, impatience, excitement, embarrassment, fear… these are all possible. People can also feel anxious about having sex for the first time and wonder if they’re really ready for it.
Having sex is a personal decision, but it can help to think about some common concerns. What will the first time feel like? Will it hurt or be awkward? What age is best? And how can you really tell if you’re ready?
Common myths about sex
Sometimes, people choose to have sex (or not have sex) because they believe in certain things about sex. These things aren’t always true – they might apply to some people, but for some others, they’re more myth than fact. Sex does not necessarily:
- Give you a longer or closer relationship
- Give you or your partner life-changing pleasure
- Feel a certain way (good, bad, painful, pleasurable…) the first time
- Make you more important or popular with your friends or partner
- Make you more mature, “grown up”, or a different person
When deciding if you’re ready or not, it can help to remember which things are facts, and which things are possible but not certain.
Will the first time having sex hurt?
Will your first time hurt? Not necessarily. There is a big myth that having anal sex and vaginal sex for the first time will be painful and bloody. This is usually not the case. When it is painful or if there is a bit of blood, it usually has to do with being uncomfortable, feeling too tense, or not using enough lube. You can learn more about the hymen and the first time on our site.
Will the first time be awkward?
Some people worry that the first time will be awkward, or they might do something wrong. Sex puts everyone in a vulnerable position, where people often don’t know how things work. Often, you’re on the same page as your partners. Remember that they have no idea what feels good, uncomfortable, or painful for you, so everyone is learning!
Any time you have sex, even if it’s the 100th time with the same person, it’s a great idea to talk about what you might want. Say when something feels good or when it doesn’t, and ask if your partners are enjoying themselves. By going slow and asking lots of questions, you can figure out what each of you likes!
That being said, sometimes sex is awkward! No one is perfect at sex, and that’s OK. Doing your best to laugh together and then move on can make you feel more comfortable trying new things and figuring out what you like.
How do I know if I’m ready for sex?
People choose to have sex for many different reasons. So, this is a question only you can answer. Some of the questions you need to ask yourself are:
- Do you want to have sex for yourself?
- Does your partner(s) want to have sex?
- Do I care about how my partner(s) feel?
- Does my partner(s) care about how I feel?
- Are you and your partner(s) aware of safer sex methods and potential consequences of sex? (pregnancy, infection, getting hurt in some way)
- Do you and your partner(s) agree on how to protect yourselves?
- Are you sure about your answer to the above questions?
These questions might help you shape the first time experience that you’re interested in. If you answered no to any of the questions above, it may be a sign that you are not quite comfortable with having sex with your partner(s).
Am I old enough?
Age of consent laws say how old you and your partners can be for sex to be consensual. Only people who are 16 years old or older can consent to sex with anyone regardless of age. If you’re 12-16 years old, you can only consent to sex with people who are close to your age. Also, in order to consent to sex with someone in a position of authority (like a teacher, coach, or minister), you need to be over 18 years old.
There are laws about what’s considered consensual sex in Canada. It’s illegal to have any kind of sexual touching or sex with someone without their consent . This is called sexual assault.
You are allowed to decide when you want to have sex. When someone does or doesn’t have sex, it is a very personal, individual choice. When you know you really want to have sex, accept the risks, have an enthusiastic consenting partner, and feel you know what is best, this is usually a good sign you are ready for sex!
In Canada, 30% of teenagers aged 15 – 17 years old reported having sex at that age, while 68% of teenagers aged 18 – 19 reported having sex. Less than half of Canadian teenagers (aged 12 – 19) report having sex for the first time before the age of 18 and more than 2/3 reported having sex before the age of 20.
First Intercourse 101
Provides information (more scientific) for teens thinking of having sex for the first time, such as arousal, pain, bleeding, orgasm, finishing, and aftercare.
My Corona/Hymen – Scarleteen
“My Corona: The Anatomy Formerly Known as the Hymen & the Myths That Surround It” includes pictures of hymens/coronas
Statistics related to trends in the sexual behaviours of Canadian Teenagers
Sexual trends among Canadian Teenagers, 12 – 18 years of age. The average ages teenagers have intercourse for the first time, and the percentage of those teenagers that have intercourse.