Summary

  • There are a number of questions that you can ask yourself to help figure out if or when you’re ready for a sexual relationship.
  • The decision about whether you are ready to have sex (or not) is yours to make, based on what is right for you.
  • If you have decided you are ready and you are going to have sex, both you and your partner must always give consent.
Sex should be a positive experience, but sometimes people are pressured into having sex before they are ready, or forced to have sex against their will. If sex is not something you have both consented to, it is not okay – and it’s against the law. So as well as thinking about if you are ready to have sex, talk to you partner and make sure they feel ready too. And make sure you both give your consent, every time.

How to decide if you’re ready for sex

Asking questions of yourself and talking to the person you are attracted to are important steps when deciding whether you are ready to have sex. Talking to trusted friends or family members can also help you decide what is right for you. 

The decision about whether you are ready to have sex is yours to make. You should never feel pressured into having sex, or pressure anyone else to have sex with you. 

Some questions to ask yourself if you are thinking about having sex include:

  • How do I feel about my partner?
  • What is the nature of our relationship?
  • Are we ‘on the same page’ about having sex?
  • Am I feeling comfortable about the idea of having sex?
  • Am I thinking about having sex because I want to, and I’m feeling ready, or because I’m feeling pressured, or like feel I ‘should’ be doing this?
  • How does the decision to have sex align with my values?
  • Am I comfortable about showing my body to my partner and being touched by them?
  • Am I comfortable communicating my feelings, expectations, preferences and concerns around sex with this person?
  • How will I communicate my consent to my partner? How will I ask them for consent? 
  • What happens if either of us changes our mind?
  • Have I spoken to my partner about how far I’m willing to go, and how far they are? 
  • Do I respect my partner’s preferences, boundaries, concerns and expectations, and do they respect mine?
  • Am I prepared to deal with unintended consequences of sex such as pregnancy, STIs, awkwardness, disappointment or discomfort with my partner?
  • Has my partner asked themself these questions too?

Practical questions to consider include:

Don’t make assumptions about how your partner feels about you, and about having sex. Ask them how they feel, and how they see your relationship. Do they feel ready to have sex? Do they want to have sex with you and, if so, what does having sex mean to them? Talk to them about the questions you have asked yourself from the lists above.

Remember, both you and your partner must consent to having sex, and you can change your mind at any time.

Safer sex

Safe sex  is having sexual contact while protecting yourself and your sexual partner against sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancy. Sexual contact that doesn’t involve the exchange of semen, vaginal fluids or blood between partners is considered to be safe sex.

Unsafe sex may put you or your partner at risk of STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, Mycoplasma genitalium, HIV or hepatitis B, or may result in an unplanned pregnancy.

Condoms offer the best available protection against STIs by acting as a physical barrier to prevent the exchange of semen, vaginal fluids or blood between partners. 

Safe sex is also called ‘safer sex’ to highlight the fact that condoms and other barrier methods are not 100 per cent effective in preventing STIs. However, condoms do offer the best available protection when used correctly.

Be STI free by getting tested for common infections and having treatment if necessary, especially if you have a new partner. Avoid sexual contact until the doctor or nurse tells you that you are no longer infectious and until both you and you partner have been treated.

Be aware that drugs and alcohol may affect your ability to make good decisions. Protect yourself from having sex that you might regret or were pressured into because you weren’t thinking properly. 

Sexual activity and young people

Across Australia, young people in Years 10, 11 and 12 are sexually active to varying degrees. Many young people have had sexual experiences, but many others have not.

Australian research from the Fifth National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health 2013 shows: 

  • Almost one quarter (22.7 per cent) of Year 10 students and half (50.4 per cent) of Year 12 students have experienced sexual intercourse (vaginal or anal intercourse). 
  • Sixty-eight per cent of young people are sexually active in some other way (including deep kissing, genital touching and oral sex).

You may find it helpful to know these statistics, but it is still important to use the above guiding questions to help determine what is right for you.

Where to get help

References

More information

Sexual health

The following content is displayed as Tabs. Once you have activated a link navigate to the end of the list to view its associated content. The activated link is defined as Active Tab

Sexuality and sexual identity

Contraception and abortion

Health conditions and sexual issues

Content Partner

This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: Family Planning Victoria

Last updated: February 2019

Content on this website is provided for information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not in any way endorse or support such therapy, service, product or treatment and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. The information and materials contained on this website are not intended to constitute a comprehensive guide concerning all aspects of the therapy, product or treatment described on the website. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions and to ascertain whether the particular therapy, service, product or treatment described on the website is suitable in their circumstances. The State of Victoria and the Department of Health & Human Services shall not bear any liability for reliance by any user on the materials contained on this website.