I think I’m ready. What should I do before I have sex?
This is a great question. It shows that you’re taking the time to think through this decision. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether becoming sexually active is what’s right for you at this point in your life.
It’s important to think about all the potential things that could happen if you have sex with someone. There are good things—pleasure, a feeling of closeness, maybe even a deepening in your relationship—that lots of people think about. These things are more likely to happen when a couple knows and understands each other, communicates openly about their feelings, decides together that they’re ready to have sex and uses condoms and/or birth control to protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Then there are things that people sometimes tend to overlook or downplay—STDs, an unplanned pregnancy or a change in the relationship that isn’t positive. Anytime you have sex, there’s a chance of getting an STD. And, if you’re a heterosexual couple having sex, there’s a chance of becoming pregnant. Using birth control and wearing condoms—every single time—reduces the chances of either of these things happening. With perfect use, hormonal birth control can be 99-percent effective at preventing pregnancy, but it does not prevent STDs. Condoms are 98-percent effective with perfect use at preventing pregnancy and are effective at protecting you from most STDs.
Difficult changes in a relationship can happen when a couple hasn’t taken the time to get to know each other before having sex. They haven’t shared their feelings, expectations and desires for themselves and the relationship, or about what sex means to each of them. Jumping into a sexual relationship creates a greater likelihood of you or a partner being emotionally hurt.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before you have sex:
Do I feel pressured by anyone to have sex, including myself, my partner or my friends?
What are my values and beliefs about sex and its role in relationships?
Can I talk honestly about sex and all that comes with it with my partner?
Have we talked about our sexual histories with each other yet?
Do I feel ready to have an intimate sexual relationship with another person and with this person?
Am I comfortable being naked with my partner and with seeing my partner naked?
What would my parents or family think about me having sex? How would I feel if I didn’t tell them?
What does my religion or faith say about having a sexual relationship?
How would we protect ourselves from STDs?
How would I feel if having sex changed the relationship? What if it becomes more intense or my feelings change?
If you are a heterosexual couple, other questions you might consider;
1. What would I do if I or my partner became pregnant?
2. What type of protection or birth control would we use? Where could we get it? Do I need to go to a clinic or see my health care provider?
Visit a clinic to learn more about your birth control options and to get condoms.