The decision of whether or not to have sex is up to you, and you alone. Therefore don’t be afraid to say “no” if that’s how you feel.
Having sex for the first time can be a huge emotional event. There are many questions and feelings that you may want to sort out before you actually get “in the heat of the moment.” Ask yourself:
- Am I really ready to have sex?
- How am I going to feel after I have sex?
- Am I doing this for the right reasons?
- How do I plan to protect myself/my partner from sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy?
- How am I going to feel about my partner afterward?
The best way to prepare for the decision to have sex is to become comfortable with communicating about your needs. If you don’t feel right about something, say so! Anyone who challenges your choices about whether or not to have sex is not giving you the respect that you deserve. Pay attention to your feelings, and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for making decisions that are right for you.
Again, only you can decide if you’re ready to have sex. No one ever has the right to pressure you into having sex. If you’re not ready–even if you and that person have had sex before–remember that you are the only person who should have control over your body. It can be hard to say “no,” even if you want to; you might feel bad about hurting someone else’s feelings, or feel that there are expectations about what is supposed to happen. But you always have the right to say “no.”
If you decide you are ready, make sure you and your partner are prepared. Be prepared to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancy. While condoms (used correctly and consistently) can protect against both STIs and pregnancy, other forms of birth control (such as the pill) may protect against pregnancy but NOT STIs. Taking care of your sexual health is essential.
Having sex is a major step; thus don’t be too embarrassed about asking questions and communicating your thoughts with your partner. They may be feeling the same way and are unsure how to approach you. If you feel you are comfortable enough to have sex with them, then you should be ready to have a conversation about it!
A NOTE ABOUT DRUGS AND ALCOHOL
The effects of drugs and alcohol can make it hard to think clearly, let alone make the best possible decisions about sex. While you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is easy to make a decision you’ll regret later. Even worse, some people will use the effects of alcohol and other drugs to force you into having sex with them. Avoiding alcohol and recreational drug use reduces the risk of contracting an STI, having an unwanted pregnancy, or being coerced to have sex.
What is abstinence? This word is used so much these days that we must all know what it means, but surprisingly there are different definitions for abstinence. At ASHA, we believe that abstinence means you are not having any kind of sex with someone else. That doesn’t mean you can’t hold hands or kiss your boy/girlfriend. We are saying that if you’ve chosen to be abstinent, that you don’t have any kind of sex.
Abstinence is and will remain, the very best way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases/infections (STD/STIs) and unwanted pregnancy. You have a right to choose abstinence and any partner who doesn’t respect your wishes may not be the best partner for you.