A close-up depicting two lips kissing, with various emojis surrounding the faces to convey a range of emotions, including excitement, curiosity, and nervousness.

Curious about what it's like to have sex for the first time? Wondering if it will live up to the hype? We’ve got the lowdown on what it's like when you take that step. Just a little heads up, though – it might be different than what you expected.

Having sex for the first time can be an exciting as well as a nerve-wracking experience. Naturally, it's also going to bring up a lot of questions. Will I orgasm? Will it hurt? And what about bleeding–will it definitely happen, and how much?

Sure, some adults may have given you “the talk” when you reached puberty, or maybe your friends have shared their own experiences of first-time sex. But they might have missed out on some important stuff or left you with unanswered questions that you felt too awkward to ask.

And that's where we come in — to fill in the gaps and bust common misconceptions. Join us as we explore everything you need to know before having sex for the first time so that you feel more prepared for that next step. 

And if you want to learn more about all things related to your intimate health, why not subscribe to our newsletter?

What is sex, anyway?

The answer is not as simple as it may seem. While it is very common for people to link it to the idea of a penis going into a vagina (sexual penetration or intercourse), it’s so much more than that.

There are options like oral sex (using mouth and lips to give or receive genital pleasure) and anal sex (stimulating the anus). It’s also possible to get creative with hands, fingers or sex toys in ways that feel good. 

Sex is such an individual experience that for some people, it can be kissing, touching or just simply caressing each other. It's all about what floats your boat and brings you pleasure. 

And sex with other people — whether they're the same or different gender — is not the only way to feel sexual pleasure. You can also enjoy it all by yourself through masturbation . The key is to find what feels good for you and embrace the journey.

What’s consent?

Before you and your partner dive into the heat of the moment, it's important that everyone involved consents to having sex. This means both of you need to agree wholeheartedly by saying a big, enthusiastic "yes" and fully understanding what's happening. Remember, the best sex is always safe sex, which includes not only protecting against sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy (more on that in a bit!) but also prioritising consent.

Keep in mind that consent isn't a one-time deal. It's an ongoing, continuous conversation. If at any point you start feeling uncomfortable or simply want to stop, remember that you have the power to say "no" to having sex. Think of consent as a green light that can be given or taken away whenever you want along the journey. And it is a two-way street — if your partner agrees to have sex one day and then doesn’t the next day or wants to stop at any point, it’s your job to listen and respect their decision.

Everyone’s comfort and boundaries matter. Saying "no" is not an insult or a negative word, it's simply a way to be true to yourself and protect your wellbeing.

How to plan first-time sex?

First-time sex can be a pretty big deal. It’s normal to have high expectations, as many people want it to be special and memorable. Some of us might even have a mental checklist prepared with the when, where and how it will happen.

While all that makes a lot of sense, it's equally important to set realistic expectations to be fair to yourself and your partner. So, before having sex for the first time, here are some things you can do to prepare yourself better.

Talk about sex with your partner

Communicating openly and honestly is key when it comes to sex (the first time and every time after that!). There can be a misconception that talking about sex takes the fun away from it, but it’s quite the opposite. This is because when you know what you and your partner want to do, you can ensure everybody has a good time. In the same way, if you both are aware of things you don’t like or are not ready to do yet, you can save yourselves any disappointment or unpleasant surprises that spoil the moment.

Feeling nervous or worried? That’s completely natural! And chances are your partner might be feeling the same too. Sharing what you’re going through can ease your nerves and relieve anxiety. Not to mention, you might create a stronger connection with your partner. So, let them know what you're feeling! Remember, you'll be sharing your body with them, so don't hold back from discussing your expectations, fears, desires, and concerns — keep it real. 

If this seems a bit overwhelming, try not to push yourself too hard. Take it one step at a time. It doesn’t have to be one big conversation where you discuss everything on your mind. It’s okay to take it one step at a time over the course of a few days or weeks to help you gather your thoughts and process any emotions.

Set the mood and build up the excitement

If you’re feeling a bit nervous about getting intimate, you can choose a safe place (like your bedroom) where you feel totally comfortable. Get cosy under your duvet, light those candles, and put on some tunes to set up the rhythm for the night! You want to be able to relax, focus on what’s happening and fully enjoy the moment.

Kissing and touching is also a great way to help you both loosen up, feel more comfortable, and reduce the chances of first-time sex pain. Plus, this way, you can find out what you enjoy, what areas of your body feel good to you and what areas don't. 

Keeping the conversation flowing and openly communicating your likes and dislikes can also work wonders in calming those nerves. 

If you're a little adventurous, you could even try adding masturbation to the mix. It can be a fun and pleasurable way to explore your body and show your partner what you like before touching each other.

Remember, the key is to take it slow. A lot of anxiety surrounding sex can come from feeling the need to rush to the next step. If you ever catch yourself wondering what you should be doing or what to do next, take a moment to center yourself. Embrace the present moment, focus on your partner and let things unfold naturally.

Stay safe 

When it comes to having sex, your health and wellbeing should always be your top priority!  One way to put your safety first is by getting contraception . This simply means using methods like condoms, birth control pills, or intrauterine devices (IUDs) to prevent unplanned pregnancies. Each works differently, but they all share the same goal – to empower you in making choices about your reproductive health and keeping you safe.

Speaking of safety, let's not forget about STIs. These are infections that can be transmitted through sexual contact, and you're more likely to get them if you don't use barrier protection such as condoms. Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) include:

• Chlamydia


• Hepatitis B and C

• Genital herpes

• Syphilis

• Gonorrhea

Some of them can be treated with medicine, but several can’t be cured and can cause serious health problems. While that can sound scary, you significantly reduce the risk of getting sexually transmitted infections simply by practicing safe sex.

Can I get pregnant the first time I have sex?

If a penis comes anywhere near your vagina, then the short answer is yes, even your first sexual experience can potentially lead to pregnancy.

Nothing kills the mood faster than worrying about unwanted pregnancy in the heat of the moment. That's why it's incredibly important to have an open conversation with your partner before getting intimate about how you'll protect yourselves — even if it may feel a bit awkward. Sex is supposed to be enjoyable, after all, not something that may give you lots of worries and anxiety afterwards.

This is where contraception comes in. Basically, contraceptive methods are ways to stop sperm from meeting and fertilising the egg (which is how a pregnancy starts).

If you're unsure about contraception methods or have any concerns regarding how to use them, don't hesitate to reach out to a doctor. Although it can feel odd to talk to a stranger about sex and relationships , remember that it is their job to look after you — and that includes your sexual health too! Also, you don’t have to figure this journey out alone, and getting support from a medical professional can more easily lead you to what works for you.

Does sex hurt the first time?

When it comes to having sex for the first time, it's common to wonder if it will hurt. The experience can bring a mix of sensations, and while it is different for everyone, sex should not be painful. 

If it starts to hurt, it’s a good idea to take a break. It could be that you’re not ready yet and need more kissing and touching before you’re relaxed enough. Or maybe you do feel ready and just need some lubricant to make things smoother, especially if, in your case sex involves the vagina or anus. While our vaginas produce their own natural lubricant (the anus doesn’t), that is not always enough so, it’s okay to get some help from the store-bought kind.

To make your first time enjoyable, take things at a pace that feels comfortable for you, and have open conversations with your partner about what feels good and what doesn't. Remember sex is supposed to be fun for everyone involved, not just one person! 

Will I bleed after having sex for the first time?

If you are going for penetrative sex and have a hymen (a thin line of tissue frequently located at the opening of the vagina), it may stretch or tear. This could result in light bleeding that looks similar to spotting . However, this is not always the case. Some hymens are very stretchy and difficult to tear, while others are so delicate that they break with exercise and when using tampons. And some vaginas don’t come with a hymen at all! 

It is also possible for friction from penetrative sex to affect your intimate skin. Friction can cause irritation and tiny tears in the sensitive tissues of your vagina, which can lead to a little bit of bleeding. The amount of bleeding can vary from just a few drops to more noticeable amounts, depending on how bad the tears are. 

One way or another, if bleeding does occur, it usually stops within a short period of time, so try not to worry. To feel more comfortable and reduce the chances of bleeding or discomfort during sex, using a good lubricant is key. Also, talking honestly with your partner about how you're feeling and the speed you're going can make the experience more enjoyable and comfortable.

And if you’re worried about staining, you can always prepare by putting down a towel wherever you plan to have sex and wear a liner on your underwear to prevent stains after sexual activities .

But if you're experiencing persistent, heavy bleeding, accompanied by severe pain, it's a good idea to reach out to a medical professional to make sure it’s not a serious problem. They can give you guidance, reassurance, and treatment if needed.

What’s the deal with lube?

When sexually aroused, our vaginas tend to naturally produce fluids that make penetration (whether it’s with a penis, fingers, or sex toys) comfortable. Think of it like a water slide at the pool — wetness equals loads of fun! But a dry slide would be pretty painful to slide down because of the friction.

However, not everyone may experience that much natural vaginal lubrication, especially during their first encounters. That's where lube comes in to save the day! Lube, short for lubricant, is a slippery substance that can make intimate activities more comfortable and enjoyable. It's basically a special gel or liquid that you can use to reduce any friction that might happen during sex.

There are mainly three types of lubes:

Water-based lubes. They are like the all-rounders of the lube family. Water-based lubricants are versatile and safe to use with most condoms. Plus, clean-up is a breeze! Just a little splash of water usually does the trick, but if you have any leftovers on your V-Zone (that refers to everything to do with our vagina, vulva and the V-shaped front of your body) you can also use intimate wipes. 

Oil-based lubes. They can be silky smooth and long-lasting. But if you're planning to give oil-based lubes a go, watch out! Latex condoms don't mix well with them (the condom could weaken, break, or tear), and they can irritate sensitive intimate skin, so you may want to double-check the label before using them.

Silicone-based lubes. These ones last a long time and stay slippery, even in water, so they’re great for using it in the shower or some pool fun. They’re also safe for people with allergies and work well with latex condoms, making them a better alternative to oil-based lubes. Just remember, silicon-based lubricants can be a little harder to clean up than water-based lubes and it shouldn't be used with silicone sex toys as it can damage them over time.

Lubricants are all about adding that extra touch of comfort and pleasure to your intimate experiences. So, feel free to experiment and have fun exploring what works for you!

What's a queef? And is it normal?

A queef is basically the release of trapped air from your vagina [1], resulting in a sound similar to a "pfft" or a fart. You may notice it after or during sex, but it can also happen during a workout or even when sitting cross-legged. It's completely normal and happens to many women+.

Queefing has nothing to do with gas or flatulence (aka farting) from the digestive system. It's just regular air finding its way out. So, those beans you had for dinner won't make you queef!

While queefing might feel a little awkward or embarrassing during sex, it's completely natural and nothing to be ashamed of. It's just your body doing its thing and finding its own unique ways to release trapped air.

Remember, sex is a fun and normal part of life, and queefing is just one of those quirks that come with the territory. So, take a deep breath, try to embrace it, and laugh it off if it happens!

Will I orgasm the first time I have sex?

A feeling of intense pleasure — or an orgasm — can happen the first time you have sex (and any time after that). But it won’t necessarily happen, and it doesn’t have to! 

So, if you or your partner don’t quite get there, try to be kind. It doesn’t automatically mean sex wasn’t good or that you don’t care about each other. It just means your body or mind wasn’t ready for it. Sometimes we’re just tired or distracted or not really that much in the mood... it’s all a completely normal part of being human. Remember, your value isn't tied to whether you have an orgasm or not.  

Keep in mind that sex isn't solely about the climax, especially during your first time. While orgasms are wonderful and can be “the cherry on top” as you and your partner explore, try not to put too much pressure on yourselves.

Instead, consider sex as a chance to enjoy your body and even as a way to form a deeper connection with your partner. You can experience plenty of pleasurable feelings without quite reaching that "big O," and that's perfectly okay. 

Does first-time sex delay your period?

Having sex for the first time usually does not delay your period – unless you become pregnant, which then causes your periods to stop.

There are many factors that can affect your menstrual cycle other than pregnancy, though. Stress, illness, doing exhausting exercise, or using some types of birth control can delay your period or even cause you to miss it altogether.

Our bodies are not perfect machines that work the exact same way every month, so it’s normal for menstruation dates to vary a little. But you know yourself best and if something doesn’t feel right or you notice significant changes in your cycle, it's best to speak to a healthcare professional. They can put your mind at ease and give you support if needed. 

Anything else I should know?

Just one more thing: always pee after having sex. Going to the bathroom as soon as you can afterwards help prevent bladder infections (also known as UTIs). Just make sure you wipe from front to back to avoid any bacteria getting into your urethra. You won't regret it, but you might if you forget!

Having sex for the first time can feel like going through a rollercoaster of emotions all at once, and that's completely normal. Sex can be exciting, messy, awkward, and even funny at times, and that's what makes it relatable and human. Perfection only happens in movies, not in real life.

When having sex for the first time, make sure to find a partner you trust and feel comfortable with, take your time, and always check for consent. There shouldn’t be any pressure for anyone to do anything they're not ready for. And remember to be kind and gentle — this is a journey, and it will take some time until you get the hang of it.

Want to learn more about sex and relationships? Find out more about what an orgasm is  and get all your sex and sexual health questions answered .

Medical disclaimer

The medical information in this article is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your doctor for guidance about a specific medical condition.



[1]Neels H, Mortiers X, de Graaf S, et al. Vaginal wind: A literature review. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2017;214:97-103. doi:10.1016/j.ejogrb.2017.04.033

Continue learning