Sex can be a lot of things: exciting, nerve-wracking, scary, fun, emotional, uncomfortable and connecting. Whether you’re considering sex for the first time or you want to make some positive changes in an existing relationship, taking steps to feel prepared, supported, and safe can reduce awkwardness and discomfort, leading to intimate experiences that feel more better, physically and emotionally. Here’s how:
1. Pick a good partner. Sex feels better when people feel safe (emotionally and physically), are able to tell one another another what they want and need, and are ready to be there for one another if something goes wrong (like a pregnancy or STI scare). “Respectful,” “communicative,” and “caring” may not sound like the sexiest traits, but they turn out to be ideal when it comes to sexual partners. For some, being in a long-term romantic relationship gives them the time they need to decide if someone is the right one. Others may decide that a good friend is the right person.
2. Get the facts. Information can help you make better decisions about sex and increase the likelihood that it will be a good experience. Familiarize yourself with the basics of how sex works, types of protection, tips for reducing possible discomfort (lubricant can be a BIG help), the emotional and physical risks, and resources you can turn to afterwards if you need emotional support or medical care.
3. Have an awkward conversation. A way to tell if you are ready for sex is whether or not you can talk about it. This doesn’t mean you have to be able to talk about it without feeling completely weird and uncomfortable. You just need to be able to have a conversation with your partner that covers consent, STI testing (always a good idea to know a new partner’s test results), protection, and birth control (if applicable).
4. Pick the Right Time – Ignore fake deadlines like Valentine’s Day, Prom, and Graduation. You may be tempted to choose a certain day like Prom because it feels like it will be more romantic. You may also feel like you have to set a deadline for yourself because your friends are doing it or because you’re partner wants to. However, the best time to give up your v card is a time when you feel emotionally ready and physically prepared. This may not be Valentine’s day, but it can still be romantic.
5. Arrive with protection. You can get pregnant or contract an STI the first time you have sex. As the big moment approaches, make sure that you and your partner agree on what type of protection you are using, how it works, and who is bringing what. If you are on the pill, make sure you have been on it long enough to have it be effective. If you are using a backup method or other protection like condoms or dental dams, make sure one of you buys them or gets them from a clinic and brings them along.
6. Expect some discomfort and imperfection. Your first time probably won’t look or feel like it does in the movies. Many girls experience a bit of pain. This is normal, but there are ways to manage it. One good tip is to have some lubricant like KY handy. This can ease friction between you and make intercourse more comfortable. Be willing to talk to your partner about what feels good and what doesn’t.
7. Take care of yourself afterwards – a few bonus tips. Try to pee after. All of that rubbing together can cause bacteria or other debris to enter your urethra (pee pathway), and you’ll want to try and clear it out so you don’t get any irritation. Also, don’t flush condoms down the toilet. They’ll come right back up or clog the pipes. If you want to maintain your privacy, wrap it up and throw it in the trash or take it with you and throw it away somewhere no one will see it. Finally, it’s normal to have a mix of emotions after your first time. If you are having regret, guilt, or anxiety, talking to someone like a doctor or a counselor can help.