Sex - young people

Having sex for the first time?

If you’ve never had sex before, no one would expect you to know how to do it. Sex is about feeling comfortable around someone, trusting them and being able to communicate with them, rather than about having the perfect technique.

Remember, even if you do decide to have sex, it is completely OK to say no or stop at any point if you don’t want to continue. Nobody has the right to make you do anything you’re not happy to do, so only have sex if you are really happy to. That’s true for the first time and every time you have sex.

This information might help to answer some of your questions but if you have more questions, why not go along to Spectrum (external link) (formally Brook and The Shine) or you can call them on 01942 483188. They offer sexual health services, advice and a counselling service.

The Law

The age at which it is legal to have sex is called the age of consent. In the UK the age of consent is 16 years old for everyone, whether they want to have sex with someone of the same sex or opposite sex.

Sometimes people can be in a situation where they do not feel free to make a choice about whether they want to have sex. This can be for many different reasons such as the threat of violence, pressure from another person, or because they do not understand what it means to give consent. They maybe drunk, incapacitated by drugs, or asleep. If a person is in this situation, they are not considered able to give consent and the law protects them.

Any sort of sexual contact without consent is illegal - whatever the age of the person involved.

Are you ready for sex?

If you haven’t had sex yet, don’t worry. The chances are that most of your friends won’t have had sex either, whatever they may say.

It is completely normal to be interested and excited by the thought of having sex and to wonder what it might be like, but it’s also normal to feel worried or confused about it.

We asked some young people ‘Why do you think some people have sex even if they don’t really want to?’

Here are some of the things they told us:

  • Because of friends pressuring them
  • Because of peer pressure
  • They feel pressured into it
  • Fear of their boyfriend/girlfriend leaving them if they don’t
  • Worrying that everyone else is doing it
  • To keep their boyfriend/girlfriend happy
  • Because there’s an expectation that you should

Questions to ask yourself

  • Could you say no if you wanted to?
  • Do you enjoy being with your partner without anything sexual involved?
  • Are you having sex because you want to? (not to please the other person or because all your friends are doing it)
  • Have you discussed using condoms and contraception with your partner and do you know how you’ll protect yourself against pregnancy and STIs?
  • Are you sure you won’t regret it later?

If you can’t answer YES to all these questions then you probably aren’t ready to have sex. But even if you can answer yes to all of these questions, this doesn’t mean you have to go ahead and have sex, make sure it’s the right decision for you.

Having a good experience

Sex should be a positive experience for both of you. This is much more likely to happen if you are both feeling happy and safe, if you’ve both sorted out contraception and if both of you actually want to do it and feel you could say no if you wanted to.

Saying ‘no’

Saying no is difficult in lots of situations in life, not just when sex is involved. It’s normal to worry about upsetting someone or that we might be seen as difficult or boring if we say no.

But sometimes in life it is important to say no. Your feelings will probably tell you whether you want to say yes or no to a request.

Saying no when you want to can help you feel good about yourself.

Remember you are not necessarily saying no forever, you’re just saying no right now.

Things to sort out or think about first

  • Contraception
  • Know who the person is
  • Sort out past relationships
  • Make sure you both want to, not just one of you
  • Know where to get some advice
  • Think about where you’re going to do it, the location
  • Think about whether you’re ready
  • Do you trust each other?
  • Don’t drink

If you have already had sex

Just because you’ve already had sex, this doesn’t mean that you have to keep on having sex if you’re not happy. It should always be your choice.

There are things you could do to show someone you care about them apart from having sex. This is what a few young people said:

  • Hug them, kiss them
  • Go for a walk or a meal
  • Listen to them, talk
  • Tell them you care
  • Send them notes, say nice things
  • Buy or make them a gift
  • Treat them the way you would like to be treated
  • Be there when they need you 

Help and support

Spectrum (formally Brook and The Shine) give advice and support on all aspects of sexual health across Wigan and Leigh, call 01942 483188. Services run from two main clinics:

  • Wigan - Galleries Shopping Centre, 6 Wigan Galleries, Wigan, WN1 1AR (formally known as The Shine Centre)
  • Leigh – Leigh Health Centre, Entrance C, The Avenue, Leigh, WN7 IHR.

If you need help when Spectrum is closed you can call the Sexual Healthline on 0300 123 7123.

© Wigan Council