First-time sex brings up a lot of questions. Will it hurt? Will I orgasm? What does it mean if I do — or don’t — bleed? There’s a lot of information out there, between what you’ve read on social media, seen in movies and TV shows, and heard from your friends. Sure, your parents may have given you a sex ed talk around the time you hit puberty, or a teacher covered the topic in health class, but they may have skipped over some critical details or left some questions unanswered that you might have been too embarrassed to ask.
But you’re definitely not alone if you have questions, and there are actually a number of important things to know before losing your virginity that no one may have told you. To be even more prepared, keep reading for all of the things no one tells you about losing your virginity.
1. There’s no right way to have sex.
First, it’s crucial to note that there’s no right or wrong way to have sex. Sex is defined in many ways, and everyone’s experience is different. There are so many different reactions you could have, both emotional and physical, to having sex for the first time — all of which are completely normal. What matters is that you and your partner are comfortable, give consent, use protection, and are 100 percent sure you’re ready to make this step.
2. Losing your virginity doesn’t mean *exactly* what you think it means.
A virgin is someone who’s never had sex but, because sex holds different meaning for different people, it’s not really that simple. Most people think that losing their virginity means penis-in-vagina intercourse, but that’s not always the case. For those who aren’t cis-gender or straight, the definition of losing their virginity may be oral sex or anal sex. The truth is there isn’t a universal definition for virginity — it comes down to each individual to define it for themself.
“Other activities, like oral sex, can be even more intimate than sexual intercourse,” Kris Gowen, a sex educator and author of Making Sexual Decisions, says. “Any time you’re intimate with someone, it’s going to impact you.”
So don’t put too much on the technicality of just one act, and instead think of ~losing it~ as a progression. Then you’ll be prepared to handle all of the big responsibilities (like am I being safe?) and complex emotions (did they really just see me totally naked?!) that come with each and every step.
3. Think about talking to your doctor before your first time.
If you’re considering having sex for the first time, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about it first. We know, it might feel weird talking to an adult about sex. But, trust us, they hear about sex and vaginas all day, every day, so nothing will shock them. And there’s this thing called doctor/patient confidentiality, which means that whatever you tell your doctor stays inside the walls of the exam room.
“Seeing a doctor prior to having sex is a good thing to do,” Dr. Tiffanny Jones, OB/GYN and fertility specialist at Conceive Fertility Dallas, advises. It’s an important way to discuss the different forms of birth control, like the pill or an IUD, and how to prevent sexually transmitted infections, she adds. So take advantage of this opportunity to ask any and all questions.
“Condoms are very important to prevent sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy,” Dr. Jones explains. “Birth control pills are common and reliable if they are taken as they are prescribed, [while] long-acting birth control like the implant and IUD are very effective and don’t rely on remembering to take them.” Remember, your OB/GYN or healthcare provider can advise on the best birth control method for you — but still, don’t forget the condoms, which you can pick up at most drugstores.
4. You can change your mind at any point.
Let’s set the scene: You’re passionately kissing your significant other and you’ve both decided that tonight is the night, but then you think: You know, I don’t really want to do this right now. That is 1,000,000,000 percent okay, and you have every single right to let your partner know that. People change their minds over all kinds of things (like craving a burger but then actually realizing they want nuggets), so why would that be any different for something as intimate as having sex for the first time? If you’re not ready, then it’s not happening, and that’s totally fine. And it doesn't matter how far you've gotten, you can stop at any point.
5. No one actually cares if you’re still a virgin.
Yes, it might seem sometimes that all anyone talks about is sex and all of your friends are doing it, but trust us: People do not care that you’re still a virgin and most don’t care what “virginity” means. And *that* is an excellent reason to wait for the positive experience you deserve, full of mutual deep-feels and next-level respect. The right person won’t care about how much you’ve hooked up. Everyone’s experiences are different. No matter your age, you should feel ready and comfortable enough to do things on your own terms, and there’s no shame in that.
6. Your 🍒 doesn't *pop.*
We know it’s a super popular myth, but it’s false. “The hymen consists of thin folds of stretchy tissue that are just inside the vaginal opening,” explains Michelle Horejs, associate director of youth education and training at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. “It may tear or stretch the first time you have sex — causing some discomfort or a little bleeding — but it’s not something you can break or that disappears once you have sex.”
You may have already tore it on your bike, on the balance beam, or just by being an active human. “A hymen can tear from penetration of any type,” Dr. Jones explains. It’s NBD though, because your hymen is just a part of your body. It has absolutely nothing to do with virginity.
7. Not everybody bleeds during first-time sex.
On that same note, it’s also totally normal if you don’t bleed during first-time sex, according to Planned Parenthood. Yes, as we mentioned above, it’s common to bleed during your first time when tissue tears around your hymen. Bur if you don’t, it may just mean that your hymen previously tore from a number of different activities, sexual or non-sexual.
8. Sex could cause pain or physical discomfort.
Let us explain. To prep for sex (we’re mostly talking penetrative intercourse here, like vaginal and anal sex), your body needs a warm-up phase of kissing, touching, etc. That’s when the penis erects and vagina lubricates to prepare for sex (because no lubrication = friction = pain). But the tricky part is that nerves can interfere with this arousal process, and you and your partner could get aroused at different speeds.
“Guys are like microwaves and girls are slow cookers,” explains Stardell Smith, a health educator at Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center in New York City. To check, you can use your fingers to see if you’re ready down there. And if not: Slow. Them. Down. If you’re not wet enough, don’t be concerned — there is nothing wrong. You can also try using lube to mitigate irritation.
9. You should pee after sex.
Some people get urinary tract infections (UTIs) after having sex, due to the bacteria that’s spread from vaginal, anal, or oral sex, according to the Cleveland Clinic. But by peeing after intercourse, you flush those germs out of your urethra (the tube in which urine exits your body) and lessen your chances of getting an infection. The Cleveland Clinic recommends that you pee within 30 minutes of having sex.
If you think you might have a UTI, call your doctor to schedule an appointment. Symptoms include a strong, frequent urge to urinate, a burning sensation when peeing, cloudy urination, blood in the urination, urine with a strong odor, and sometimes, pelvic pain, according to the Mayo Clinic. Often, your doctor or OB/GYN will prescribe an antibiotic, which clears up most UTIs within a few days.
10. There’s no timeline to follow.
Perhaps one of the most confusing questions you will face in your life is, Am I ready to have sex? And it’s extra-complicated when you’re in a relationship (or, you know, a situation-ship) and start to feel like there are expectations on the other end. But just remember that you never owe someone sex, no matter if it’s your whatever-month anniversary or someone’s birthday, prom night, or anything else. Yes, we know. You’re looking for a sign that it’s time. But the truth is, that sign won’t come from anyone else or any date or event... it has to come from you.
11. It might be awkward the first time.
Movies and TV shows create all kinds of ideas about what first-time sex looks like. Your brain might be full of fireworks-worthy fantasies. You may feel pressured to know exactly what you’re doing. However, you wouldn’t expect yourself to know how to drive a car if you’ve never done it before, so why do you feel that way when it comes to sex? In reality, sex might feel a little awkward and clumsy at first. But you and you partner are just getting to know each other in this intimate way, and it might take a few times until you get into your groove. As long as you’re protecting yourself against STIs and pregnancy, you can do it however feels right (remember: there’s no right or wrong way to have sex for the first time).
“Sex takes place mentally as well as physically,” explains Smith. “So if you feel tense or are scared, which most people do feel their first time, it can be really difficult to enjoy your experience.” Communicate and be honest with your partner about how you’re feeling, and be open about what feels right and what doesn’t. “Whether it’s your first time or your 100th time, communication and comfort are key,” Horejs says.
12. Afterwards, your relationship may change.
Real talk: Losing your virginity can bring you and your S.O. closer. But what no one really talks about is how it can also test your bond in some ways. A late period, a questionable bump down there — sh*t can get serious very fast, and those uncertainties can poke holes in your connection. So, before you make the decision to have sex (any time! not just the first time!), always ask yourself: Is our relationship strong enough to withstand the worst-case scenarios? Can I trust this person to treat me with total respect? This is a big decision, and you’ll need the *ultimate* gut-check.
13. You probably won't orgasm at the same time as your partner, if at all.
The fantasies that movies and other media portray are not reality, so don’t feel too bad if you don’t orgasm your first time. In fact, according to Brown University, one out of three people with vulvas have trouble orgasming when having sex. Because you may not be used to having sex, it’s unlikely that it’ll happen the first time. As you and your partner get more comfortable with each other, explore, and learn what you like and what you don’t like, it’ll likely get easier to reach orgasm during sex.
14. You can still get STIs from other kinds of sex too.
According to Planned Parenthood, it’s possible to get sexually transmitted infections in ways other than vaginal sex. “STIs can be spread by bodily fluid and in direct contact,” Dr. Jones explains. This means you can still be at risk for infection if you’ve had oral or anal sex without using a condom or other form of protection. Because of this, anyone involved may want to get tested just to be on the safe side.
15. Sexual attraction doesn’t always equal an emotional connection.
A lot of people prefer to have sex for the first time with someone they love or care deeply about, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, there won’t be an emotional connection with someone you’re physically attracted to. If you’re demisexual, you may only feel sexual attraction for other people after establishing a romantic bond. Sexual and romantic attraction exists on a spectrum, and truly depends on the preferences of each person involved.
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