Whatever anyone says, having sex for the first time can feel like a big deal. But it doesn’t have to be an awkward fumble. It can be a really fun, safe and pleasurable experience that you remember for all the right reasons.

However, if all your friends have already done it (or at least say they have), you may feel under pressure to just to get it out of the way. No matter what, there’s no rush and you should do it when you feel ready to. Most importantly, having safe, enjoyable and consensual sex should be your priority.

Read our list of ten first-time sex tips to make sure your first time goes without a hitch.

1. Ask yourself “Am I ready?”

Do you feel you’re ready? Who would you be doing it for, yourself or your partner? Or are you just thinking of doing it because all your friends have?

It’s important you make the decision to have sex for the first time for yourself and no one else. If you’re not 100% sure, a good way to judge is whether the idea of having sex makes you feel excited or worried? That should tell you all you need to know.

2. Talk about it with your partner

Letting each other know what you’re thinking is important, but not always easy. If you have fears or worries about your first time together, try to talk about them as openly as you can. It’s especially important to ask your partner if they have been tested for sexually transmitted infections and to discuss protection methods like condoms and birth control. Above all, ensure both you and your partner consent to having sex.

You might be feeling awkward, but the chances are your partner will be feeling the same. It’s just as important for you to listen to them too. Look for signs that they are into it just as much as you are. If not, it’s better to back off for a while. Don’t assume your partner is ready to go all the way. You must ask them directly for their consent. That doesn’t have to mean ruining the mood. It can be as simple as whispering “Is this OK?” in their ear before touching them. Keep in mind your partner can change their mind at any point. So, be sure to listen to them to ensure clear communication throughout.

3. Educate yourselves

Make sure you’re educated on how to have safe sex, including how to avoid STIs, the ins and outs of birth control, and how to use a condom. It’s best to listen up during sexual education, ask questions, and talk to your doctor or take a visit to your local sexual health clinic to get more information on sex.

4. Get to know your own body

The key to enjoying sex is knowing what you like, what being turned on feels like, how to get turned on and where and how you like to be touched.

The best way to find out may be on your own. Although it isn’t for everyone, most of us masturbate and it can be lots of fun to do it with someone else as well as on your own.

5. Pick the right place and the right time

For your first time with your partner, choose a safe, stress-free place where you know you’re not going to be disturbed. To feel totally relaxed, you’ll need some time and space to get comfortable with each other. Don’t worry about the ‘perfect’ or a ‘romantic’ setting; the one that feels best for both yourself and your partner will help you both enjoy.

6. Sex shouldn’t hurt

From some of the things you may have heard, you might be asking yourself “does sex hurt the first time?” If you’re turned on and relaxed then having sex for the first time may feel really good, even if you’re understandably a little nervous.

Spending a long time on foreplay will help get you both ready. And using lube for your first few times will help to make everything go a lot smoother and more comfortably than without.

Above all, listen to your body. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, sore or painful, then stop. It could easily be a sign that you aren’t quite ready yet or pushing yourself too much too soon. Don’t worry or put pressure on yourself to climax; just enjoy the sensations and the other person. There will be plenty of future opportunities, so enjoy your first time (and every time) in the moment.

7. It’s OK to feel embarrassed

However well you think and plan it to go beforehand, the chances are in real life it won’t be as perfect as in your mind – it is your first time after all.

It may feel a little awkward to begin with – you are trying something totally new - as your bodies will react differently and maybe you’ll feel a bit embarrassed at different moments. This is okay so long as it feels good too and you can have a bit of a laugh about it after with your partner.

8. Take your time

There’s no need to rush things, and there’s no right or wrong way how to have sex for the first time or any time. Go as slow as you like and don’t be afraid to experiment (if you and your partner are up for it) – after all, you won’t know if you like something until you’ve tried it. And remember, you need to use a new condom for each sexual act.

Unlike in porn movies, sexual experiences don’t have to happen in the same order and not everyone likes the same things. Focus on exploring and having the sex you both want. This can take time to discover, but can be so much more enjoyable, intense, even silly at times!

9. Sex talk

The only way to learn what you and your partner like sexually is to be open with each other.

During sex, keep it simple and guide your partner to keep doing the things you’re most enjoying with your words: “Oh yes.” “Wait.” “Keep going.” “Softer.” ”Harder.” “Faster.”

Listen for the sounds and body language from your partner too, but don’t feel like you should be performing like people in porn. Watch and feel how your bodies naturally respond to each other to show how much you’re both enjoying it.

10. What comes after

Sex may change your relationship, or it may not – talking about it can help you decide what it means for you and your partner.

First-time sex can be awesome, but make sure you’re having it for the right reasons and that it’s consensual and safe.

When you’re comfortable and in the right mood, sex can boost your mood. But if something feels off, then there’s no harm waiting till you absolutely know you’re ready.

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