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Ready for sex?

Deciding if and when to have sex is a very personal decision. Everyone is different and some people may feel more ready for sex than others. It’s completely normal to be interested and excited about the thought of having sex. But it’s also normal to be worried or confused about it.

How do I know if I'm ready for sex?

Deciding to have sex can feel like a big decision. While there are no rules that tell you when you’re ready, there are some things you can think about to help you decide. These are things that are helpful to remember every time you want to have sex, not just for the first time.

  1. It’s your decision. It’s up to you when, where and who you want to have sex with. You should never have sex just to please someone else or because you feel like you should because all your friends say they’ve had sex.
  2. You should feel safe and comfortable. Understand what you are and aren’t comfortable with. Talk to your partner about what you want and what you don’t want to do. Having open and honest conversations can make you feel more relaxed and make sex more enjoyable.
  3. Consent is crucial. Sexual consent means you both choose or agree to have sex. It doesn’t just cover sex, consent also applies to kissing, touching or any other sexual activity. Consent isn’t a one-time decision, you can say no at any time if you change your mind.
  4. Pressure is not ok. It’s never ok for someone to force or pressure you into having sex. You should only go as far as you feel comfortable going, no matter what your friends or partner say. If someone calls you ‘frigid’ or ‘boring’ for not doing something, this is a form of pressure and is not ok.

I think I'm ready

Everyone is ‘ready’ at different times. Some young people want to wait until they are adults, others may want to wait until they are in a serious committed relationship. There is nothing wrong with choosing to have sex or choosing to wait. The decision is yours and should be based on how you feel, not on other factors like your partner or friends pressuring you. Everyone deserves positive and healthy sexual experiences.

Sex and the law

In UK law the age of consent is 16 years old. This means anyone below 16 cannot give consent even if they are saying yes to sexual activity. Find out more about sex and the law. Remember, the law is there to protect young people and does not seek to criminalise young people engaging in sexual activity in consensual relationships.

Protecting yourself (contraception)

Contraception is something which protects against pregnancy.

Most methods of contraception do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STIs).

Condoms are the only type of contraception that can protect against both STIs and pregnancy. 

Anyone (including under 16s) can access free contraception in the UK. The NHS website has more information on contraception (including where to access it ) and STIs.

Contraception services are confidential (private) – this means they won’t tell your parents, unless they feel that there’s a risk to your safety. This risk would need to be serious, and they’d usually discuss this with you first. 

Where to get advice

There are lots of services where you can get guidance on safe sex, relationships, contraception, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and more.

  • Brook offers free sexual health and wellbeing information for young people, both online and through local clinics.
  • You can go to your local GP or sexual health clinic for advice on contraception or health related issues like sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • You can get free condoms and advice on contraception at your local GP, sexual health clinic and Brook services.
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See all help

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Healthy sexual experiences

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Sex and the law

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Understanding young people's rights when it comes to sex and sexual activity.