So, you’re thinking about having penetrative sex for the first time? Penetrative sex (aka sexual intercourse) can be an enjoyable way to connect and get closer with someone. It’s healthy to want to experience it. But, if it’s your first time and you’re not sure what to expect, there are a few things to be mindful of. We’re here to help, so let’s explore the common questions that come up before, during or after first-time sex, to make sure your first time is memorable for all the right reasons.
Before you head into the bedroom and get to business…
Feeling comfortable with your sexual partner is one of the most important things to consider. Being clear with your expectations and communicating them before you have sex can help to ensure you both enjoy the experience together. If at any point you start to feel uneasy about the situation, or you change your mind…that’s fine! Let your partner know you need to stop and talk about how you’re feeling.
Consent is a clear and enthusiastic yes, from the beginning, during, and at the end. Even if you’ve said you want to have sex, you can change your mind at any time and for any reason (you may not even be aware of why you don’t want to anymore — and that’s okay). Remember, at any point if you want to stop or take a break, you can! See the ins and outs of consent for some useful tips around this too.
When you start to have sex, its important to keep in mind that there is a risk that you might come into contact with sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and penis-in-vagina sex can also carry the risk of unplanned pregnancy. If you’re considering having sex for the first time, it’s worth familiarising yourself with the most common STIs in Australia, most of which can be effectively treated or cured. Have a conversation with your partner about what protection you are going to use, and when you can go for an STI check.
There are various kinds of protection against pregnancy such as the pill, but one of the advantages of condoms is that they also protect you against STIs. Sex is definitely better when you know you’re safe from unplanned pregnancy and STIs — and the condom is going to be your new best friend.
Even if we’re prepared, accidents can happen. Condoms can break due to friction or not being used correctly…if that happens, don’t panic. Stop, remove the condom, put on a new one so you can carry on safely, and then book in for an STI test at any STI clinic in NSW. You’ll most likely be fine, but if you do have an STI, getting tested quickly means you can get the right STI treatment.
Another thing that can break is a hymen — which is a thin tissue that stretches across part of the opening of the vagina. There are so many myths about the hymen and how it breaking symbolises that someone with a vagina has lost their virginity. But the truth is, many things can break the hymen — sport, exercise, tampons, and masturbation, and some vaginas don’t even have hymens.
If you do have a hymen and it breaks, you might see some blood, and feel some discomfort. This is normal. But it’s also normal NOT to see any blood the first time you have sex. Everybody is different
Before sex, ideally you’d feel at ease with the situation. If it’s your first time, nerves are normal. Try to relax and talk to your partner about how you’re feeling. If the nerves seem overwhelming, maybe you’re not actually ready — so have an open mind because it’s ok to change it. It’s a good idea to start small, with kissing and foreplay, and work from there. Keep checking in with yourself and your partner to make sure you’re both comfortable.
Sometimes, speaking with someone you trust and asking them for sex advice is also a good way to help prepare your mind for sex. If you’re prepared, have open communication with your partner and understand how to use condoms to avoid STIs and/or unwanted pregnancies — this can go a long way to putting your mind at ease so you can relax and enjoy your first time.
In terms of physical changes to your body…not a lot. If you have a vagina, then as mentioned earlier, your hymen might have broken and you may feel a bit sore. If you have a penis, it will still look and feel the same after sex.
The main change you might feel is in your own mind. It may make you feel closer and more connected emotionally to your partner. If you feel a sense of remorse or regret, it’s important to speak to someone, a trusted friend, parent or guardian, doctor, or counsellor.
As long as you practice safe sex and communicate with your partner, you’ve done your best to ensure your first time was safe and enjoyable. It’s always good to be aware of your thoughts and if you’re concerned about having sex, or not feeling great about it, reach out to friends, family or other support networks like Kids Help Line, or Lifeline Australia.
Do you have questions about safe sex? Why not join the conversation on the Play Safe sex and relationship forum or ask Nurse Nettie a question. If you would like to find out more about STI testing and STI treatment in Sydney and NSW, you’ll find all the information you need here.