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How to have great sex on your first time

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  • Having sex for the first time can be really exciting, but it might make you feel lots of other things too.     
  • Sex is best when it feels good for both you and your partner. Making sure you both feel ready, is the most important step to enjoying sex on your first time.  
  • You and your partner should also plan how to make it safer. There are different options to choose from. Condoms can prevent STIs, HIV and unwanted pregnancy.  

Here are our best sex tips for having great sex on your first time and a few things to think about.

Do you actually want to have sex?

This is the most important thing to ask yourself before you decide to get down to it. It’s totally normal to be nervous before having sex for the first time! But it’s good to check that you’re not confusing nerves with simply not really being ready.

Try not to worry or feel rushed if your friends say they’ve had sex. It’s best to do it when it feels right for you. 

Still unsure? Read our guide to knowing if you’re ready to have sex to make it clear in your own mind.  

Remember, even if you decide you’re ready for sex, you can change your mind at any time and that’s ok.

Am I ready for sex?

Have you thought about consent?

You might be ready to rush to the bedroom, but is your partner? Talking about it is the best way to know for sure.

Ask your partner how they’re feeling about having sex. If they’re not up for it or they're unsure, respect their choice. Try not to pressure them or make them feel guilty about their decision. 
Make sure you’re both clear-headed and equally excited about having sex. If your partner is drunk or passed out they can’t consent

If you’re both ready to explore, talk about what you want to try and what you’re comfortable with. This can be exciting and helps you to know what your boundaries are. 

Remember, consent doesn’t stop there. Keep communicating with your partner during sex. Check when moving from one activity to another and know it’s ok to stop at any point. Also, just because you consent to sex once, it doesn’t mean you have to say yes next time too. 

What is sexual consent?
Personal story: Nir

Personal story: Nir

We were open and talked about everything

How do you plan ahead and make it safe?

Planning ahead can help you and your partner find a time when you will have privacy and won’t be disturbed. It also gives you a chance to talk about what you do and don’t want to try.

Having a plan means you can make sure you have everything you need, such as contraception and protection from STIs. Condoms are the only kind of protection that keeps you safe from HIV, STIs and unplanned pregnancy. 

Try to have plenty of lube too. It increases the pleasure and can make sex more comfortable. It’s especially important if you’re having anal sex because the anus doesn’t produce its own lubrication.


What kind of sex do you want to have?

There’s lots of different kinds of sex out there… vaginal, oral, anal sex, masturbation, foreplay, and toys too.

Think about what you’re into and what you would like to try. Then discuss it with your partner. Masturbating is a great way to work out what you like. 

Find out more about foreplay and how to have oral sex, vaginal sex  and anal sex.

What should I expect?

Sex can be amazing... but it can take a while to work out what you and your partner like.

If your first time isn’t earth-shattering, don’t stress! First time sex can be a bit awkward, embarrassing and sometimes a little painful. It’s normal, but keep talking to your partner about how it feels and let them know if you want to stop. 

Remember that good sex has more to do with trust and communication, than knowing exactly what to do.

Personal story: Thando

Personal story: Thando

I got so nervous that I couldn't get an erection

What is foreplay?

Foreplay is anything that turns you and your partner on before sex – whether it’s licking, kissing, touching – whatever gets you going. 

When you’re having sex for the first time, it’s good to take your time. Foreplay can be a great way to connect with your partner. It also helps your body get ready for sex - so a penis will become erect and a vagina will become wet. Touching and caressing the anus can also help it relax before anal sex.

Foreplay can be a lot of fun on its own. You might decide that it’s enough and you don’t want to go on to have penetrative sex. That’s fine too!

How do I tell my partner what I want?

Talking during foreplay and sex helps you and your partner learn what you like and what you’re not into.  

If your partner is doing something you love, let them know! Many people find it arousing to know they’re turning their partner on. If you're not enjoying something or want to stop, say so – your partner will understand.

Listen to your partner and look out for other cues too. Moaning, sighing and shouting ‘yes, yes, yes, yes!’ are all good signs that they’re into it. But if they don’t seem to be responding or are looking away, check how they’re feeling. It can be a sign that someone is not enjoying it and wants to stop.

The more you talk to each other, the more you will learn what each other like and the better sex will be.

Personal story: Josh

Personal story: Josh

We started to talk about having sex. She was totally into it!

Will I have an orgasm?

An orgasm is something that happens when you are really turned on. As you become aroused (often through touching or rubbing), tension builds up in your body. When you orgasm, this tension is then released in a sudden pleasurable rush. Semen (white fluid) will come out of your penis. Women or transgender men can release a clear fluid too.

Orgasms can be amazing, but they might not happen every time. Both men and women can have intense, pleasurable sex without them. 

Understanding your body through masturbation, being relaxed, foreplay and telling your partner what you want can all make orgasms more likely.

What if I feel nervous?

Feeling nervous about having sex for the first time is perfectly normal! We can all get those butterflies whether it’s your first time ever, first time in a long time or first time with that person. The important thing is to not put too much pressure on yourself. Your first-time doesn’t have to be  ‘perfect’.

Hopefully the information on this page has helped you feel more prepared and less nervous. But if you’re still nervous, talking about how you feel with your partner can help. You might also want to talk to a friend or family member you trust.  

Remember you don’t have to have sex and sometimes feeling really nervous can be a sign that you’re not ready. Take your time, and only do what you feel comfortable with.

Let's talk about having great sex on your first time!

Here are a few questions to help kick-off discussions on the issues you need to talk about! You can share them on social, on WhatsApp or just get talking.

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Is there a best position for first-time sex?

There is no one best position for everyone. The best position will be whatever makes you and your partner feel most comfortable.

If you are finding sex uncomfortable, it might be good to try being on top, that way you have more control over the speed and how much goes inside. 

Will having sex for the first time hurt?

The first time you have sex might feel a little uncomfortable and can hurt a bit, but it shouldn’t be really painful. If it’s hurting, you can stop or take a break. This gives you a chance to get more lube and spend some more time kissing and touching each other which will help your body relax. This should make it less painful if you decide to try again. 

If you keep finding sex painful, you can ask your doctor or your healthcare provider for advice.

Next: Am I ready for sex?

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  • Last updated: 22 May 2024
  • Last full review: 22 May 2024
  • Next full review: 22 May 2027
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