People often ask me if there is a “right” time for a young person to lose their virginity. Should they wait until college, until they are monogamous, or until they are adults and married? The answer is truly going to depend on your own personal religious and cultural beliefs, but it’s an important topic to discuss because all young people need to be involved and educated when it comes to their bodies and their sexual decisions. Parents and teens both need to keep their communication honest and open, and it’s a conversation that we should have not just once, but frequently, especially as our kids mature and start dating.
The decision to have sex is an individual one, and there is no specific age when sexual activity must begin. Some people choose to wait until they are married, some until they fall in love, some until they are in a committed relationship, some until they are graduated and living away from home. Despite what you may see in the media, the truth is that many young people are actually waiting to have sex and there is nothing weird or “prudish” about that. In fact,it is a decision which can protect you from unplanned pregnancies, STDs, and even a broken heart.
Many young people have sex before they are emotionally prepared, perhaps because they are inundated with sexual messaging every day. Sex seems like something that everyone is doing, something that is ‘no big deal.’ Choosing not to engage in sexual activity can feel like social suicide, especially if people mock you for your decision or try to pressure you to have sex before you are ready. Unfortunately, these are issues which teens are forced to confront every day, whether they are at school, at the movies, or hanging out with friends.
So how do you know when you are ready to have sex?
- it is very important to consider the far-reaching consequences of having sex before you are ready. There are potentially very real and very well-known consequences, such as STDs and teen pregnancy, but there are also other less known concerns to take under consideration. For example, did you know that young girls who have sex before they are ready are more likely to struggle with sexual satisfaction and sexual response when they get older? When your first memories of sex are unpleasant, it can negatively color the rest of your sexual experiences. In an ideal world, every woman’s first memories of sex would be of love, mutual respect, and mutual pleasure. By postponing sex until you are in a committed, monogamous relationship with someone who loves you, you can increase your chances of having such a positive experience.
- it’s important to realize that there is nothing wrong with having sexual desires and fantasies. As your body changes and your hormones fluctuate, you will no doubt experience sexual thoughts, feelings, and urges. However, intercourse is just one way to release those feelings. Masturbation can help to relieve sexual tension, and can help you get to know your body and your sexual response (all of which will be helpful when you do decide to have sex someday). Rest assured, masturbation is a completely normal activity, and not something of which you should be embarrassed or ashamed.
- think outside the box when you are ready to be intimate with your partner. You don’t immediately have to jump from making out to having sex. There are many other ways you can be intimate without having sex, such as through VENIS (very erotic non-insertive sex). With VENIS, you can enjoy sensual and erotic activities with your partner without engaging in intercourse. Ideas include: Give each other a massage, take a bath together, explore mutual masturbation, or have manual sex (hands-only). These are all ways to explore your sexuality without risking STDS or pregnancy, and while postponing actual intercourse until you are ready for those potential risks.
- remember that you and your partner might have very different ideas and expectations about sexual activity. You might assume that your partner has the same relationship goals as you, but until you ask them, you really don’t know. Are you going to be together forever? Is this a summer fling or a serious relationship? It’s important to find out, especially if it impacts your decision to lose your virginity. You also need to be able to discuss other topics, such as STD testing, sexual history, etc. If you aren’t comfortable having these conversations, then you aren’t ready to have sex.
- remember that a lot of what you hear from your friends and peers isn’t often true. Your friends might be exaggerating their sexual activity in an effort to look more adult (although it only makes them look just the opposite), so take news of their sexual ‘conquests’ with a grain of salt. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is your health and your happiness, so practice good self-care and don’t rush into sex.you have your whole life to enjoy it!