Building a Positive Attitude

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    Make sure you are ready to have sex. Feeling nervous about your first time is normal. If you feel tense when you think about sex or when you and your partner are fooling around, it might be a sign that you should wait. If you have sex when it doesn’t feel right, you may enjoy sex less and become tense during the act.

    • A lot of people grow up being taught sex is shameful, should be reserved for marriage, and is only to be experienced between a man and a woman.[1] If the idea of sex makes you feel guilty or stressed, maybe you should wait. Try talking to someone about your feelings.
    • It is normal to feel insecure or unconfident about your body. But if you are scared or cannot be naked because of how you look, it might be a sign that you’re not quite ready to be with a partner.
    • Don’t feel ashamed of your sexual preferences. Only you can decide who you’re attracted to and what type of sex you want. Everybody has limits and preferences, so don’t feel guilty about them.

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    Communicate with your partner. Talking with your partner can establish trust while helping you feel more positive about having sex. A good partner should be considerate of your feelings and willing to help you through the process. If your potential partner pressures you too much or makes you feel uncomfortable, reconsider having sex with them.

    • If pregnancy is a possibility, talk about birth control and protection before you have sex. You might say, “I’m on birth control, but I would like for you to still use a condom.”
    • Let them know what your fears and expectations are and how you’re feeling. You might say, “I’m really nervous about it hurting the first time.”
    • Tell your partner if there’s something you want to try or something you absolutely don’t want to do. For example, you can tell them, “I like oral sex, but I’m not really into anal.”
    • If you’re nervous or anxious, let them know. If they dismiss your feelings, it may be a sign that they do not take your concerns seriously.

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    Find a trusted adult you can talk to. You might feel awkward discussing sex with an adult, but you should at least identify someone you can reach out to for help. This could be a parent, a doctor, nurse, school counselor, or an older sibling. They can give you advice, answer your questions, and provide access to protection. Even if you don’t end up talking to them beforehand, you may want to have someone you could contact in case of emergency.

    • If you feel pressured to have sex, talk to a trusted adult for help. Remember that you never have to have sex unless you want to. No one should pressure you into doing something you don’t want to.

Educating Yourself About Your Body

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    Learn about how sex works. Understanding your own anatomy can help you feel more confident, especially if your partner is also a virgin. Knowing what goes where, what’s normal, and what to expect can help ease your anxiety. Some places you can look include Planned ParenthoodSex, Etc. and Scarleteen.

    • Masturbation can help you understand what you enjoy when it comes to sex. Before having sex with a partner, try experimenting with yourself.

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    Discover your hymen. Contrary to popular belief, the hymen membrane does not usually cover the vaginal opening unless a condition exists such as a microperforate or septate hymen. Rather than it being a “seal of freshness” like many say, it is instead the muscle and skin surrounding the opening, akin to the skin and muscle of the butthole. It doesn’t “break”, but it can be damaged by anything from tampons, doing the splits, or when having sex or inserting larger objects in, which causes the pain most virgins feel.

    • If the hymen is damaged or torn, it will most likely bleed. This can be seen whilst and after sex. The amount of blood should not be nearly as much blood as if you were on your period.
    • Tearing/”breaking” your hymen shouldn’t be very painful. Pain during sex is usually caused by friction. This can happen if you are not lubricated or aroused enough.

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    Identify the angle of your vagina. If you can help your partner ease into you at the correct angle, you’ll avoid some potentially painful fumbling. Most vaginas are angled with a forward tilt toward the belly. If you were standing, your vagina would be at a 45-degree angle to the floor.[2]

    • If you use tampons, take note of how you approach inserting a tampon. Try to recreate that same angle when you start penetrative sex.
    • If you don’t use tampons, insert a finger next time you’re in the shower. Aim toward your lower back; if that doesn’t feel comfortable, shift forward slightly until you find a point that’s comfortable.

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    Locate your clitoris. People with vaginas rarely experience orgasm from penetration alone. Instead, clitoral stimulation usually causes them to orgasm. Oral sex or clitoral stimulation before penetration can relax the muscles.

    • Try to locate your clitoris before you have sex. You can do this by masturbating or by looking with a mirror and a flashlight. This can help you guide your partner to it during sex, especially if your partner is also a virgin.
    • Orgasming before penetration may actually help reduce pain during sex. Try to engage in oral sex during foreplay and before penetration. Your partner can also stimulate your clitoris with their fingers or a sex toy.

Enjoying Yourself During Sex

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    Pick a stress-free location. If you’re constantly worried about getting caught, you might not have much fun. Make it easier on yourself and your partner by choosing a time and place where you won’t be disturbed.

    • Look for privacy, a comfortable surface to lie down on, and a time when you aren’t worried about being on a schedule.
    • Think about whether you’re more comfortable having sex at your place or theirs.
    • If you’re in a dorm or if you share a room, you might ask your roommate to give you some time alone that night.

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    Set a relaxing mood. Loosen up by making the atmosphere stress-free. Clean up any distracting clutter, shut off your phone, and remove anything else that might make you feel nervous or keep you from focusing on your partner.

    • Dim lighting, soft music, and a warm room temperature can help make you feel safe and comfortable.
    • Consider taking some time to groom yourself beforehand so that you feel relaxed and confident.

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    Get consent. Make sure you and your partner have openly agreed to have sex. If you’re not sure how your partner is feeling, ask before going forward. Just because your partner doesn’t say “no,” it doesn’t mean you have consent.[3] They should respond with a confident, absolute “yes.”

    • If your partner doesn’t want sex, do not pressure them. If you do not want sex, they should back off when you say no.
    • Consent also means that you shouldn’t do anything that your partner isn’t enthusiastic about.

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    Use protection. Protection protects against both pregnancy and/or sexually-transmitted infections (STIs). Using protection may help you relax if you are nervous about getting pregnant or a disease. Other forms of birth control do not protect against STIs, so protection gives you an extra layer of protection. If your partner refuses to use protection, you may want to reconsider having sex with them.

    • Condoms aren’t the only type of protection! If your partner is going to preform oral sex on you, vise versa, you should use dental dams and protect against STDs.
    • There are both male/external and female/internal condoms available.
    • If you need to buy condoms, the most important thing about condoms is that they fit. Partners should buy a few different types of condoms. Try them on and see what fits best. If your partner has a latex allergy, nitrile condoms are a great alternative.
    • If pregnancy is a possibility, condoms should be worn before, during, and after penetration. This will increase your protection against STIs and pregnancy.

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    Apply lubricant. Lubricant will ease a lot of the pain by reducing friction. It can also help prevent condoms from breaking during sex. Apply lubricant to your partner’s penis over the condom or sex toy before they penetrate you.

    • If you’re using latex condoms, do not use an oil-based lubricant. These can weaken the latex and cause the condom to tear or break. Instead, use a silicone- or water-based lube. It is safe to use any type of lube with a nitrile or polyurethane condom.

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    Take your time. Try to enjoy the moment instead of rushing to the finish line. Spend time figuring out what you and your partner both enjoy. Start with kissing, move to making out, and stick to whatever pace feels most comfortable for both of you.

    • Foreplay can help you relax while increasing arousal. It can also increase your natural lubrication, making it easier for your partner to enter you painlessly.
    • Remember that you can stop having sex at any point. Consent is active and ongoing. You have the right to stop or withdraw consent at any point you want.

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    Communicate your needs. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need in the moment. If something feels good, let your partner know. If something is causing you pain or discomfort, tell them. They should be willing to do what it takes to make you feel pleasure instead of pain.

    • If you’re feeling pain, try slowing down, moving more gently, or using more lubrication. For example, if you feel pain, you might say, “Do you mind if we slow down? This is hurting me right now.”
    • You can ask your partner to try a different position if the one you’re using is uncomfortable. For example, if you are on top of your partner, you can better control the speed and angle of penetration.

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    Do some aftercare. If you have pain or bleeding, deal with it before it becomes too overbearing. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, clean up any blood, and wear a light pad for a few hours. If you experience extreme pain, you need to talk to a trusted adult or see a health care provider.


Expert Q&A

  • Question
    Why do I start to shake every time my boyfriend and I plan to have sex?

    Laura Marusinec, MD

    Board Certified Pediatrician
    Expert Answer
    You may not really be ready to have sex yet, or you may be scared. Think about if you are ready to have sex. Are you mature enough? Are you feeling pressured to have sex? Do you really care about your partner and does he treat you well and really care about you? If you don’t think you are ready yet, talk to your partner and ask him to wait until you are. If you are ready and have a caring partner, then talk about why you may be scared. If you are worried about pregnancy or diseases, make sure you use condoms and go on birth control first. If you are scared of pain, read the article for tips.
    How do you prevent pregnancy?

    Laura Marusinec, MD

    Board Certified Pediatrician
    Expert Answer
    If you are going to have sex, the best way to prevent pregnancy is to start taking the pill or Depo shot at least a month or two before you have sex, AND use a condom as well every time. If you take the pill, you have to make sure you take it when you are supposed to each day and not miss pills. And if you do the Depo shot, you have to get it when it’s due, about every 3 months.
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  • If you experience excruciating pain or heavy bleeding, see a doctor as soon as possible.

  • If you feel like tonight is not “the night,” don’t be ashamed to wait. A caring partner will value how you feel above anything else. If you change your mind, it is okay to say so!

  • You might get the urge to go to the toilet during sex. This is normal. Urinating before sex can alleviate this sensation. If you still experience this with an empty bladder, you may be someone who can experience female ejaculation.


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  • Don’t give in to pressure from your partner. It’s your decision, not anyone else’s.

  • Don’t drink or take any kind of drug out of fear of pain. It could make it much worse.

  • If your partner has had multiple partners, you should ask them to get tested for STIs. STIs are spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. People can carry and pass on STIs without showing symptoms. You can decrease your chances of getting an STD by using condoms, dental dams, and other barrier methods.

  • If you take birth control pills and are taking other medications such as antibiotics, this can sometimes alter the effects of the pill. Always consult your doctor before starting any medications to see if there will be any negative interactions with your birth control.

  • It is possible to get pregnant the first time you have sex. Condoms are highly effective when used correctly, but if possible, you should use another form of birth control along with a condom.


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