Whatever first time it is, it’s something you’ll never forget. It’s exciting and special. That’s why it’s important to make sure it’s something you'll want to remember.
If you are a virgin or have never had sex with your partner before, it’s natural to be nervous for your first time. But, we’re here to help you out! Here are some tips to overcome those first-time worries.
Learn as much about sex as you can
Have a look at all our information on making love and our tips for first-time sex. The more you know about sex, the less worried you’ll feel!
Talk about it
There are a lot of reasons people might feel uncomfortable talking to their partner about sex. You don’t want to seem too forward. You might not want to seem knowledgeable – even though knowing stuff about sex doesn’t mean you’ve been practising, it just means you’ve done your homework!
The secret to great sex is communication. The more you dare to be open and honest with your partner about your needs and your worries, the more rewarding sex will be for both of you. Take a relaxed moment to discuss fears and concerns so you can go into the night relaxed and prepared.
Get sex education
Depending on your cultural background, you may even get some sex education sessions to prepare you for sex. Along the Kenyan coast, for example, kitchen parties or hen parties are common. Aunties and friends will pass on their knowledge to women when they are preparing to get married.
Start when you feel ready
There is only one person who can decide if you’re ready to have sex for the first time: you. Listen to your own feelings and don’t let yourself be talked into anything.
On average, people have intercourse for the first time when they’re 17 years old.
Ease the pressure off yourselves. You don’t necessarily have to have sex the first time you are intimate unless you really want to. Make sure to take time to explore and discover each other’s bodies at a comfortable pace. Building it up over days, weeks or months can make it more exciting.
You can also chat to feel relaxed. Talk about how life, food, friends – just some fun stuff.
Take your time
If you feel nervous, be honest. Chances are high your partner feels the same way.
Take it slowly. Don’t rush into anything. Take time for lots and lots of foreplay. Kiss, touch, and caress each other. Make it last. Make each other feel loved. Make sure it’s not rushed and traumatic, but sexy and memorable.
Notice your partner’s body language. Respond to their feelings and moves. If you are confused, afraid, or in pain, tell them gently. You can even ask them to stop until you get more comfortable with each other.
Listen to your feelings
Once you’ve started, you might realise that you actually don’t want to do it. Don’t ignore this feeling. You can always stop, whatever the other person says. Do things at your own pace.
Be clear. If you say ‘no’ but at the same time keep kissing and caressing, your partner won’t be able to tell what you really want.
Pay attention to your partner
You don’t have sex just for yourself – you have sex together. So pay attention to your partner.
Are they enjoying it? Ask.
Are they nervous? Try to reassure them by saying loving things.
Does your partner feel insecure about you seeing them naked? Tell them how gorgeous they are.
Can you tell your partner doesn’t want to go any further? Respect that. You can really enjoy making love without having intercourse.
Talk to each other
The first time you probably won’t know exactly what to do.
Pay attention to the way your partner responds. Do they moan? Do they guide your hand to a particular place? These are signs that you’re heading in the right direction. But often the signals aren’t so clear, so talk to each other about what you’d like to try. Many people find talking about it really arousing too.
Use a condom
Always use a condom. That way you not only prevent unwanted pregnancy but also protect against STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). Most other family planning methods only stop the woman from getting pregnant.
Accidents with condoms are nearly always the result of using them wrongly. So read the instructions carefully and use one to practice. Boys can practise on themselves, and women can practise by putting a condom on a banana.
You can read more about using condoms in the section on birth control.
Don’t pretend to have an orgasm
There’s no rule that says you have to have an orgasm. Don’t pretend to have one: it’s not fair to your partner. Anyway, making love without having an orgasm can be wonderful too.
It’s okay to laugh
The first time you’ll probably both be a bit nervous. You want everything to be perfect and the first time to be amazing, so you might both be a bit tense and serious. But try to keep the mood light. Humour and sex are a perfectly good mix!
Don’t take erection problems too seriously
Don’t make a big deal of erection trouble. Because of nerves and pressure to perform, men can have trouble getting an erection. Guys, go easy on yourselves, it can happen to anyone. Ladies, remember it’s not because he doesn’t think you are sexy. Take the lead, and enjoy the challenge of turning him on. But don’t take it personally if his penis doesn’t respond this time.
Blood (or no blood) is okay
Don’t make a big deal of bleeding – or not bleeding. First-time intercourse might make the woman bleed if the hymen tears. But bear in mind: if she doesn’t bleed, it doesn’t mean she is not a virgin.
Do check out our myths and FAQs about the Hymen and Virginity.
Easy does it
Be gentle. You don't need to be rough to 'break' virginity. It’s possible that the woman might feel some pain the first time (though not necessarily). The way to minimise pain is for her to be as relaxed and aroused as possible, so her vagina is really wet and doesn’t tense up. The vaginal tissue is very tender and can be easily damaged, which can be very painful for the woman.
So comfort her and love her with all your heart. And take plenty of time for foreplay to drive her wild with desire before you move on to intercourse.
Our tips will get you started, but you may still have some questions about having sex for the first time. Keep on reading to get answers to all your queries.
First-time sex FAQ
Does the first time always hurt?
No. If a woman is relaxed and sexually aroused, it doesn’t hurt. If you’re very tense, the vagina can stay dry or may tighten up. This increases the chance of the hymen tearing and intercourse being painful. The first time you’re often excited or nervous, so this can easily happen. But if you both take your time, it doesn’t hurt.
Ways of making love: do you lose your virginity?
- Masturbating: no
- Kissing, stroking, feeling, caressing: no
- Oral sex (stimulating the penis or vulva with your mouth): opinions vary depending on culture and tradition, or from one person to another
- Anal intercourse (penis in the anus): opinions vary depending on culture and tradition, or from one person to another
- Vaginal intercourse (penis in the vagina): yes
Do all women bleed when they first have sex?
No. Research has shown that a lot of women don’t bleed the first time. For one thing, your hymen might have been stretched by using tampons or doing sport like horse riding. You might have a very thin or stretchy hymen or have been born without a hymen.
Whether you bleed or not says nothing about whether or not you’re a virgin.
You are less likely to bleed if you take your time making love, you’re relaxed and your vagina is moist, and your partner goes gently. On the other hand, if your hymen is thick and not very stretchy, you might also bleed the second or third time you have sex. That doesn’t make you a super-virgin!
In some families, it’s the custom for a woman to show a sheet with bloodstains after her wedding night. This is supposed to be proof that she was a virgin. The family may think that if she can’t show any blood, she must have had intercourse with a man before. But that’s a misconception.
How can I make sure I bleed the first time?
Some women particularly want to bleed on their wedding night. They might want to convince their new husband they’re still a virgin, when in fact they aren’t. Or they might still be a virgin but are worried their husband will have doubts about their virginity if they don’t bleed.
For all these reasons, women look for ways to make sure they bleed on their wedding night. There are lots of tricks, ranging from pricking or cutting your finger and dripping some blood on the sheet, to using an ‘artificial hymen’. Some women also opt to have an operation to have their hymen ‘restored’.
If you use one of these tricks, remember you’re helping to keep the myth alive that women always bleed the first time they have sex!