Love and sexuality
 
Beginning to have sexual experiences
 
Be ready
How to know if you’re ready ? This is a very personal question and you’re the only one who can answer it. Making love is an act of intimacy, and is something you should only do if you want to, if you believe it’s the right time and that you’re with the right partner, and only if no one is obliging you to do so. When you feel ready, the idea of making love will no longer worry or scare you. Sexual relations require mutual respect and trust.

 
Go at your own pace
Your first sexual experience is a very personal decision, so it’s important not to let yourself be influenced by your peers, who may put pressure on you. For example, if your partner is harassing you to get you to make love even though you don’t feel ready, be sure to ask him/her to respect your decision.

You have to go at your OWN pace. You may feel ready earlier or later than your friends and other people your age. Or you may feel ready but haven’t found THE person with whom you’d like to share this intimate experience. There is no ideal age; it’s up to you to decide when the time is right for you. Take the time to become comfortable with your partner, and above all, with yourself.

Green light: here are some signs that may indicate you’re ready:
  • You don’t feel any pressure from your partner or peers
  • You’re comfortable enough with your partner to talk about it
  • You’ve obtained birth control and protection against STIs (STDs)
  • You’ve made a personal choice and it’s something you truly want

Red light: it may be a good idea to put off the first time if:
  • You’re being harassed, blackmailed or threatened (e.g. “Come on, let’s do it”, “What? You haven’t done it yet?” or “If you don’t want to, I’m leaving you!”)
  • You don’t feel respected or you feel uncomfortable with the relationship or situation
  • You’re not certain that you want your first sexual experience to be with your current partner
  • The only reason you want to make love is to make the other person happy
  • You feel pressured by the other person or you’re putting pressure on yourself
  • You know your partner wants to try a form of sex you aren’t comfortable with
  • You’ve consumed alcohol or drugs

 
Virginity, what is it?
There are a number of definitions of virginity. You may have a different concept of it than your friends. Do you only lose your virginity when the hymen is broken? And how does it work for guys? Are you no longer a virgin only if there’s been penetration?

Sexual relations are much broader than that. They can include kissing, mutual masturbation, oral contact, caressing, etc. There are many visions of sex! Ultimately, is it really that important to know if you’re a “virgin” or not? The most essential thing is that you go at your own pace and feel comfortable with your choices.

 
Does it hurt?
For girls
Your first sexual experience with penetration may be a bit painful for various reasons:
•    The hymen, a thin membrane at the opening of the vagina may break and cause minor bleeding. Some girls will feel little or no pain and others will feel more. Sometimes, playing certain sports, using tampons or even a fall may have already broken the hymen. You can also help the hymen dilate through soft massages and caressing.
•    A girl’s vaginal muscles may contract involuntarily if she feels stressed, which could make penetration more difficult.
•    It may be difficult to get excited the first time, which could prevent sufficient vaginal lubrication. If the vagina isn’t lubricated enough, there’s a greater risk of irritation.

For guys and girls
The important thing is to enjoy yourself! It’s not a matter of comparing yourself to others or performing at any cost. Listen to yourself and to the other person.

No sexual practice is obligatory.
You can refuse to have sex or stop having sex at any time if you’re not comfortable or if it’s painful. Talk to your partner about it.

 
How to talk to your partner about sexuality
To have satisfying sexual relations, it’s essential to talk to your partner about sexuality; first of all to discuss your feelings, fears, and expectations, but also to find out if you both feel ready.

You can also specify what you feel ready to try (e.g. ready to explore your bodies or ready for mutual masturbation but not for penetration). This helps avoid disappointment and misunderstandings. You can use humour to keep the mood light. The important thing is to make sure your talk is based on mutual respect.

 
Why protect yourself?

After figuring out if you’re ready for your first sexual experience, you need to find out about the consequences and assume your responsibilities in terms STIs (STDs), AIDS and the risk of pregnancy. It’s important to adopt safe practices and to take the necessary precautions by using contraceptive methods that will prevent pregnancy and also protect you against STIs (STDs).

Watch out for easy excuses:
  • “If you really loved me, you’d want to make love without protection.”
  • “If you don’t want to, it’s over between us…”
  • “We’re faithful to each other, we don’t need condoms.”
  • “It’s the first time for both of us, there’s no risk.”
  • “It’s not really sex if there’s no penetration.”
  • “Trust me, I don’t need a condom, I don’t have any bugs.”
  • “Nobody in our gang uses condoms.”

 
How to make sure things go smoothly!
Here are some tips to make sure things go smoothly:
  • Talk about contraception, protection against STIs (STDs) and the risk of pregnancy, and choose a contraceptive method in advance.
  • Plan the moment and choose a place where you can feel comfortable and intimate.
  • Take your time and make sure the pace also suits your partner.
  • Practise foreplay (caressing, kissing, tender words).
  • Create a nice ambiance (music, candles).
  • Share with your partner what gives you pleasure, what you’re not comfortable with, what you’re not ready for.
  •  Allow yourself to explore and learn, or to stop if you don’t feel comfortable.
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