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Having Sex

Knowing your partner’s and your own body

Couple lying in bedKnowing as much as possible about your own sex organs and body, and your partner’s body can help you to get to know what you both enjoy. See our page on ' puberty and sexual organs' for more information.

What about 'other stuff'?

You may find that you’d rather do other sexual things with your partner, instead of or as well as sexual intercourse. Or, if your partner is of the same-sex as you are, then ‘other stuff’ is relevant for you!

People often enjoy kissing, cuddling and holding hands. 'French kissing' is when both people open their mouths when they are kissing and their tongues touch together.

Many people also like to stroke or rub each others bodies, particularly their genital areas. Some people like to touch each other directly, and some prefer to do it through their clothes.

'Other stuff' could be just touching and being comfortable with each other’s bodies, or oral sex (using your mouth to stimulate the other person’s genitals). There’s a risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) here, so make sure you’re clued up. Again, both people still have to be comfortable and consenting, even if you’re not having sexual intercourse.

How do men and women have sex?

“What is most important about whichever position you choose, is that it provides stimulation and enjoyment for both of you.”

Sexual intercourse between two people starts with both of them getting sexually excited as a result of kissing, stroking, caressing, rubbing and touching each other. This sexual excitement will result in certain physical signs of sexual excitement. For girls/women, the vagina (the sexual opening between the legs) begins to moisten. The boy/man will get an erection, which means his penis will get bigger and harden. It is important that this stimulation goes on for long enough, because if the girl is not sexually excited enough, then her vagina will not be lubricated and moist enough, and it will be difficult for the boy's penis to enter the girl's vagina.

When the couple are both ready to have sexual intercourse (and this includes the boy putting a condom on if he is going to use one), it is probably easiest if either the boy or the girl uses their hand to guide the penis into the vagina. Then, once the penis is inside, the couple need to move their bodies so that the penis pushes into the vagina and then pulls partly out again. After a while this movement can lead to orgasm (coming or climaxing) for one or both of them.

There are quite a number of different positions in which you can have sexual intercourse. One very common position involves both the boy and the girl lying down, with the boy lying on top (this is often referred to as the missionary position). Alternatively the girl can be on top or both the boy and the girl can lie on their sides. It is probably easiest to choose one of these positions if you are having sexual intercourse for the first time. However, you can also have sexual intercourse with both the boy and the girl sitting down, one on the other, or both can be standing up.

What is most important about whichever position you choose, is that it provides stimulation and enjoyment for both of you.

Sex between men

“I thought that all that men did in bed together was anal sex and that was disgusting... and then you find men who aren't bothered about doing that at all and no-one has ever tried to force me to have penetrative sex. It's much more of a loving, caring thing than I thought, too.” - Peter

Gay men do what straight people do in bed. They do what they feel comfortable with and enjoy doing. This can be non-penetrative sex, oral sex, or simply kissing and touching each other.

With anal sex, lube will make things go more smoothly and help to prevent damage to the inside of the anus - don't use your partner's come as a lubricant. The best lubricants are water-based - oil-based lubricants can weaken a condom and make it more likely to break. Try not to tear or damage the inside of the anus - this will increase the chances of HIV being transmitted when having anal sex or when licking or touching the anus.

Feelings after sex

Whatever your experience, things can change. Talking about it can usually help you get over any embarrassment or worries. You might feel your relationship has reached a new and special intimacy.

If you have had a bad experience or it changes your mind about having a relationship with the person you had sex with, it doesn't set a pattern forever.

You don't have to have sex with them again, or with someone else. If you didn't use contraception you don't have to go on not using it in the future.

Have confidence. Have respect

Protect infographic

“I know we were both really nervous, but talking and laughing really helped. Plus we were able to make sure nothing drastic happened. Although we loved each other loads we certainly didn't want a baby at seventeen or to put our health at risk. So we went together to the clinic, sorted things out so that there wouldn't be any worries.”

These are some useful things that would be worth thinking about if you want to remain active, healthy and having sex!

Respect yourself and respect your body

  • Only you can do this.
  • Unprotected sex will put your body at risk. 
  • The risks involved can have very serious consequences.

Respect others you meet

  • Make sure you are in it for the same reasons as each other.
  • Make sure all involved are happy with the situation. 
  • Think not just about your emotions but the other person's also.

Have the confidence to make the right choices

  • Don't do anything that you don't want to do.
  • If you're not comfortable with something don't do it. 
  • Protect yourself; be confident enough to suggest using a condom.

If you follow these simple suggestions you are more likely to be able to continue having fun and enjoyment. 

Where next?

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