Make sure you feel confident in your decision to have sex. Most people fear the unknown, and it’s easy to get anxious if you don’t know what’s coming. Feeling nervous is normal, but if you find you feel so anxious that your whole body tenses up when you think about it, or when you and your partner are fooling around, it might be a sign that you should wait a little longer, until you feel more excited than nervous. Instead of letting anxiety take over, try to find ways to relax and become educated beforehand so you feel confident in the moment. Here are some strategies to try:
- Read up! Knowing exactly what goes where, what’s normal, and what to expect can help ease a lot of your anxiety about having sex for the first time. Planned Parenthood, Sex, Etc. and Scarleteen are good places to start.
- Know your body. Understanding your own anatomy can help you feel more confident, especially if your partner is also a virgin. It’s important to figure out what you enjoy, so you can communicate that to your partner and ensure that you both have a good experience. Masturbation can help with this, or you can simply resolve to be communicative while you experiment with your partner — whatever you choose, try to pay attention to how you respond to different touches.
- Approach sex with a positive attitude. When you lose your virginity is a personal choice. If you feel extremely guilty and stressed out at the prospect, maybe it’s better to wait. If you engage in sexual activity when it doesn’t feel “right,” this can impact your enjoyment of sex and may lead to feelings of guilt or shame. A lot of people grow up being taught sex is shameful, should be reserved for marriage, and is only to be experienced between a man and a woman. If you are struggling with these feelings, you may want to address them before having sex. It’s okay to have sexual desires and feelings, to be with other people sexually when it is consensual, to be attracted to any gender, or to be any gender. Sex should be a positive experience that brings you closer to a consenting partner.
2Take a trip to the drugstore. Buying a few items ahead of time can make losing your virginity a little easier. Consider picking up:
- Condoms, which both help prevent pregnancy and help stop the spread of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs). Even if you’re on another form of birth control and you trust your partner, using a condom can erase any doubts that might make you anxious in the moment. Don’t worry about buying anything that’s ribbed or extra tricked-out for your first time — your biggest concern is that the condom fit. Partners should consider going together and buying a few different types of condoms and trying them on and seeing what fits best so you’ll be prepared when the big moment arrives. If your partner has a latex allergy, nitrile condoms are a great alternative.
- Lubricant will ease a lot of the pain by reducing friction. If you’re using latex condoms (which most are), do not use an oil-based lubricant, because they can weaken the latex and cause the condom to tear or break. Instead, opt for a silicone- or water-based lube. It is safe to use any type of lube with a nitrile or polyurethane condom.
3Discuss your concerns with your partner. Having sex with someone you trust can make your first time a lot less nerve-wracking. Your partner should be considerate of your feelings, focused on making sure you have a good experience, and willing to help you through the process. If your potential partner pressures you too much, or if he or she doesn’t seem very concerned about how having sex might affect you, maybe it’s best to reconsider.
4Know what your hymen is. The hymen is a thin membrane that partially covers the vaginal opening, and almost every female is born with one. It starts to wear away over time due to a variety of activities, such as playing sports, tampon usage, menstruation or normal movement. Here’s what you need to know about it as far as losing your virginity is concerned:
- You probably have a partial hymen. If you’re a teenager, chances are that only part of your hymen is left — which is normal, particularly if you’ve already started having periods. If you want to investigate more, you should be able to see your hymen easily with the help of a flashlight and a hand mirror.
- If you do bleed, it shouldn’t be very much. Any bleeding you experience after losing your virginity should not be on the same level as having a period. Instead, it should only be light spotting for a few hours after. Some girls won’t bleed at all.
- Breaking your hymen shouldn’t be overwhelmingly painful. Actually, if you do experience pain during your first time, it’s probably from friction if you are not sufficiently lubricated or aroused — not because your hymen has nerve endings (spoiler: it doesn’t). The good news is, although you can’t control your hymen tearing, you can control how relaxed you are.
- In some cases, your hymen may not break at all. It can stretch or the opening in the hymen may be large enough that the penis, sex toy, or fingers inserted do not tear the hymen.
5Get acquainted with how your vagina is angled. If you can help your partner ease into you at the correct angle, you’ll avoid some potentially painful fumbling. Most vaginas are at an angle and tilt forward, toward the belly. If you were standing, your vagina would be at a 45-degree angle to the floor.
- If you regularly use tampons, you’re one step ahead. Take note of how you approach inserting a tampon, and try to recreate that same angle when you’re starting to have penetrative sex.
- Remember that missionary is not the only position you can use — another position, in which you have more control, may be more comfortable. If you are on top of your partner, you can better control the speed and angle of penetration.
- If you don’t use tampons or haven’t otherwise engaged in any vaginal penetration, it’s probably a good idea to figure it out before you have sex. Try using tampons on your next period, or inserting a finger next time you’re in the shower. Aim toward your lower back; if that doesn’t feel comfortable, shift forward slightly until you find a point that’s comfortable.
6Identify a trusted adult you can talk to. It may seem awkward to discuss your decision with an adult, and you may ultimately decide you don’t feel comfortable doing so, but it’s important to at least identify an adult you know you could talk to for help or advice. This person could be a parent, but it could also be a doctor, nurse, aunt, school counselor, or an older sibling. He or she can give you advice, make sure you have access to protection, and help you know what to expect. Even if you don’t end up talking to this person, it will be comforting to know that there’s someone you can talk to about sex, sexuality, and sexual health.
7Get familiar with your clitoris. Contrary to what you might see in the movies, women rarely experience orgasm from penetration alone; clitoral stimulation is usually how people who are female orgasm. If you are nervous about pain, oral sex or clitoral stimulation before penetration can relax the muscles. If you orgasm before penetration, this can alleviate any potential pain due to the flood of endorphins in the brain.
- Talk to your partner about engaging in oral sex or stimulating the clitoris manually during foreplay and before penetration.
While You’re Having Sex
1Communicate with your partner. Communicate about birth control, safer sex and boundaries beforehand. Communicate about fears or nerves, about what what you think will or won’t happen, and about how you’re feeling. Make sure you both understand the concept of consent, not just that “no means no,” but that you shouldn’t do anything that your partner isn’t enthusiastic about. If you’re not sure, ask before proceeding — just because your partner doesn’t say “no,” it doesn’t mean you have consent. You want to hear an excited, enthusiastic “Yes!”
- Try not to be afraid to ask for what you need in the moment — he or she should be more than happy to help you. Slowing down, moving gently, or using more lubrication are all things you could suggest to ease the pain of your first time.
2Pick a stress-free location. If you’re constantly worried about getting caught, you might not have much fun. Make it easier on yourself and your partner by choosing a time and place where you can be relatively sure you won’t be disturbed.
- Look for privacy, a comfortable surface to lie down on, and a time when you aren’t worried about being on a schedule.
3Set a relaxing mood. Loosen up by making the atmosphere stress-free. Get rid of any distracting clutter, shut off your phone, and remove anything else that might make you feel nervous or keep you from focusing on your partner.
- Try some of the tricks that medical offices, dental offices or beauty salons use. Dim lighting, soft music, and warm room temperature are all meant to make you feel safe and comfortable.
- Consider taking some time to groom yourself beforehand so that you feel relaxed in your own skin. Take a quick shower so that you are clean and relaxed.
4Take your time. Try to be in the moment enjoying the journey instead of rushing to the finish or “destination.” Instead of worrying about getting right to it, spend time figuring out what you and your partner both enjoy. Start with kissing, move to making out, and stick to whatever pace feels most comfortable for both of you.
- Here’s an extra bonus to doing plenty of foreplay: as you become more aroused, your natural lubrication will increase — making it easier for your partner to enter you painlessly later on.
- Remember that you can stop having sex at any point. Consent is active and ongoing. If at any point you want to stop or withdraw consent, that is your right.
5Do some aftercare (optional). If you’re experiencing pain or bleeding, try to deal with it before it becomes too aggravating. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever (do not take aspirin if you’re under age 19), clean up any blood, and wear a light pad for a few hours. If you experience extreme pain, you need to talk to a trusted adult or see a health care provider.