Q: I am 18 years old, and I am considering having sex for the first time. I am a late bloomer and most of my friends have already taken this big step, so I am embarrassed to ask them for advice, yet I am worried — does it hurt? My boyfriend promises to be gentle, but I am still scared.
Good for you for taking things slow and listening to your heart. There is no “right” time to have sex, and so there is absolutely no need for you to be embarrassed about your virginity. Trust me, you are not alone — many teenagers postpone sex until they are emotionally and physically ready for such a big step. (As a matter of fact, many teens who claim to have sex are exaggerating to impress their pals, so you probably aren’t as alone as you think.)
And while you might feel immature or naive compared with your sexually experienced friends, the truth is that postponing sex and standing firm in your own decision actually requires a great deal of maturity and depth.
Of course, you probably don’t want to stay a virgin forever (after all, sex can be pretty fun!). That being said, it is important to understand why you are considering taking this big step, as well as how it will affect your relationship and your life. First, make sure that you are having sex because it is what you really want to do, and not because you think it is time or because your boyfriend is pressuring you. You have your whole life to have sex — you don’t have to jump into it right now if you aren’t ready.
Second, talk to your boyfriend about your fears and your expectations. By expectations I mean monogamy, commitment, fidelity…all the things that you will likely want from your partner once you become physical. You also seem to have fear about pain. This is a concern many women have, and it is understandable as intercourse can initially be somewhat uncomfortable or painful. However, there are things you can do to decrease discomfort, such as:
Wait until you are ready. If you are anxious, your body will freeze up, making sex that much more uncomfortable. If you wait until you are genuinely ready and in the mood, your body will respond in turn.
Have plenty of foreplay. Don’t jump right into it. Kiss, touch, and stimulate each other. It’s your first time, you shouldn’t feel rushed.
Use lubrication. Sometimes people wrongly think that lubrication is just for older women, but this simply isn’t the case. It makes sex smooth, slippery, and pleasurable; not to mention, it decreases friction and any pain you may experience during sex.
Lastly, talk about safer-sex practices and make sure your boyfriend has a clean bill of health from his doctor. Use condoms each and every time, and consider another form of birth control in conjunction with this, such as birth control pills. Most importantly, relax, breathe, and enjoy!
— Dr. Laura Berman
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