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How to have great sex on your first time

Having sex for the first time can bring up a mix of emotions – it can feel daunting, exciting and everything in between. The main thing is to be sure you want to have sex and that it’s the right time for you and your partner. It’s also important to think about how you can have safer sex on your first time. 

The best kind of sex is the kind that feels good for both you and your partner. Here's a few things to think about before you get down to it.

Do you actually want to have sex?

This is the single most important thing to ask yourself before you decide to get down to it. You might want to know how to please your partner but it's more important to be sure that you’re happy and confident with the idea of having sex – and that your partner is on the same page as you. 

It’s totally normal to be nervous before having sex for the first time! That said, it’s good to check that you’re not confusing nerves with simply not really being ready to have sex.  

Also, try not to worry or feel rushed if your friends say they’ve had sex. It’s best to wait until it feels like the right situation for you. 

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

Even if you decide you’re ready for sex, remember: people change their minds all the time and you can too – especially for something as personal as sex.  

If, after thinking about it, you're sure you’re ready to get busy, think about what protection you might want to use. It might seem like a small detail, but many people find that being prepared makes the first time more relaxed. Condoms protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancy. 

Also, people might not tell you this, but the first time can be a bit awkward, clunky and even slightly painful. So if your first time isn’t earth-shattering, don’t stress – the fun is in exploring! 

Am I ready for sex?

Have you thought about consent?

You might be ready to rush to the bedroom, but is your partner? Talking is the best way to know for sure. Ask them how they’re feeling about having sex. If they’re not up for it or if they're unsure, that’s their right and you should respect their choice. Try not to pressure them or make them feel guilty about their decision. 

If you’re both ready to explore, it’s still good to discuss it so you know what you are both comfortable with. Get talking about what you’d both like to try – this in itself can be fun! 

It’s also important to remember: just because you consent to sex once, it doesn’t mean you’re signing up for sex with that person whenever they feel like it. Likewise, consent for one kind of sex doesn’t mean consent for all types of sex.  

And like we said earlier – people change their minds and that’s okay! Respect your partner’s wishes. Sex can only be good when you’re both clear-headed and equally excited about it. That also means if your partner's drunk or passed out, you can't get consent from them. 

What is sexual consent?

Do you know what you want to do – and how to do it safely?

Sex, oral, anal, sex toys, masturbation – there’s a big wide world of sex out there for you to navigate. 

Unsure about what’s what? Our guides break it down, answering the most common questions about oral sex, vaginal sex  and anal sex. Remember that you – or your partner – might not like every type of sex, and that’s perfectly fine. 

Whichever way you go, keep in mind that condoms are the only kind of protection that keeps you safe from HIV, STIs and unwanted pregnancy. Check out our how to have sex pages for more tips on protection. 


Have you tried foreplay?

One thing that’s great for any kind of sex? Foreplay.  

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

Not only is it a fun warm-up before the main act, it gives your body a chance to get ready for sex – so a penis will become erect and a vagina will become wet. In fact, some people find they enjoy foreplay most, which is totally normal. 

Remember you don’t need to have penetrative sex to orgasm! A lot of people don’t actually get to penetrative sex because they have too much fun along the way.

Foreplay also means that when you do get to it, the mechanics of sex are easier and less likely to be painful. We’d suggest having some water-based lube handy, especially for anal sex.

Can you be open with your partner?

We’ve gone over why it's helpful to talk to your partner before deciding to have sex. Talking during foreplay and sex can be great too. It’ll help you learn more about what you both enjoy and what you’re not into.  

Loving what your partner’s doing? Let them know. Many people find it arousing to know they’re turning their partner on. Not enjoying something or maybe you want to slow it down? Say so – they will understand.  

Your partner can’t read your mind, so speak up – after all, if you’re nervous about whether you can please them, they’re likely to be nervous about the same thing too. 

What about orgasms?

When it comes to your first time, many people wonder, and sometimes worry about, being able to orgasm (coming or climaxing) and making their partner orgasm.

An orgasm happens when you are very aroused. Tension builds up in your body, the sexual pressure is then released in a sudden pleasurable rush. Being relaxed, lots of foreplay and talking with your partner will all help to make an orgasm more likely. 

But don’t worry if you or your partner don’t have an orgasm straight away or even at all. It takes time to get to know what works for you and for your partner. Both men and women can enjoy sex even if it does not make them climax.

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.  

Hopefully the information on this page has helped you feel more prepared and less nervous. One of the key things is not to put too much pressure on yourself or the moment to be ‘perfect’. Instead try to enjoy it. 

If you’re still feeling 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. Talking things over can help you work out what exactly is making you feel nervous. Remember you don’t have to have sex. Sometimes feeling nervous can be a sign that we’re just not ready. You also don’t have to do everything all at once – if you’re not ready for penetrative sex you might want to just try foreplay. Take it at the pace that you feel comfortable with and try things out to see if you and your partner enjoy them. 

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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  • Last updated: 09 October 2023
  • Last full review: 01 March 2022
  • Next full review: 01 March 2025
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