How do I know if I'm ready for sex?

When you first have sex it should be a pleasurable and healthy experience and not something you regret. Having sex for the first time is a big decision, so it’s worth thinking carefully about it and waiting until you are really ready. But how do you know when you are ready? Here we take a look at some things to think about to help you decide. 

What do you want?

When you decide to have sex for the first time, it’s really important that you think about what is best for you. It can be hard to work out what you really want, especially if it seems like everyone around is having sex already. This may leave you feeling pressured into having sex.

From all the talk it may seem like everyone is having sex, but they’re not. About two-thirds of young people in Scotland wait until they are over the age of 16 before starting to have sex. So if you want to wait to make sure you are ready you’re not alone! 

Relationships should be about respecting and trusting each other. 

  • You deserve to be treated with care and respect. 
  • You always have the right to say no. 
  • No one has the right to pressure you into having sex if you don’t want it.   

Sometimes it can be hard to decide what you really want because you feel pressure from your partner. They may say something like “If you really loved me you would have sex with me” or “If you don’t have sex with me I’ll dump you”. It can be upsetting when someone says this to you. 

If they put you under pressure it might be worth thinking twice about continuing the relationship. 

Be confident in who you are

Sometimes people might have sex because they hope it will help them feel more confident and happy with who they are. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out this way and you may end up feeling less confident. 

If you’re not sure how confident you are feeling, it’s worth taking time out to build your confidence. For some ideas about how to do this visit the Lowdown page on building confidence.

Are you ready?

Before you choose to have sex with someone ask yourself these questions:

  • Can you trust each other?
  • Do you have strong feelings for each other?
  • Do you respect each other?
  • Can you talk to each other about your worries and concerns?
  • Do you feel relaxed and happy together?
  • Do they like you for who you are?
  • Can you have a laugh with them?
  • Do you both know what you want and what you don’t want?
  • Will you respect each other’s privacy by not telling all your mates?
  • Have you planned how you are going to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy?

It’s good to talk to your partner about sex, you will need to do that to answer some of these questions. It may be a bit embarrassing but it’s worth it.

If your answer is no to any of these questions, you might want to ask yourself, “is now the right time?”

Not ready?

If you don’t think you’re ready to have sex just now then it’s ok to wait. Just because you’re not ready now it doesn’t mean that you never will.

Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you must have sex. There are lots of ways to show someone you love them without having sex, in fact young people in England came up with 101 ways! See related links at the bottom of the page.

If you are ready...

If you’ve decided that you are ready for sex then you need make sure you’re partner is ready too. If they are then great, if they’re not then that’s something you need to respect. 

You also need make sure you have contraception sorted. Your local sexual health clinic will be able to give you lots of information and advice about what would be best for you.


Just because you’ve started having sex doesn't mean that you have to continue. It’s ok to take time out to think about what you want.

Talking about how we feel can help you work out what we are thinking and feeling, especially if you regret something that happened in a relationship. You could talk to a friend or relative you trust. 

If you would prefer not to talk to someone you know you could call ChildLine free at any time on 0800 11 11 or visit your local youth sexual health clinic and have a chat with one of the staff there. 

Call the Young Scot InfoLine for free on 0808 801 0338 to find out more about what services are in your area. The lines are open from 10am til 6pm Monday to Friday.