How to Determine Whether You’re Ready to Have Sex
Your sexual wellness is all about positive expression. Whether you’re procreating or just having a good time, your sexuality should be something you enjoy, desire and love. However, there’s also a serious side to your sexual wellbeing, and that’s taking care of your sexual health. Sure, sure, we’ve all heard about sexual health in school, but how many of us really learned our lesson? Luckily, relationship expert and sexologist Dr Gabrielle Morrissey, author of Urge: Hot Secrets For Great Sex and Sex in the Time of Generation X, is here to make sure that the message gets through.
According to Dr Morrissey, ‘Research (and commonsense) shows that when people feel safer about an activity, and minimise their risks, they feel a greater excitement and level of joy associated with that activity. Any worry is alleviated, so people can then turn their focus entirely on the pleasure they derive from that activity. This is as true for skydiving as it is for sex. I’m often asked how to know when it is a good time to engage in sex, whether it is for the first time ever, or the first time in a relationship. The answer is reflected in your own individual values, however there are some basic guidelines that can help your decision-making process.’ Unless you can at least do the following three things, you’re not ready for sex.
1. Talk to your partner: Dr Morrissey recommends, ‘Talk with your partner about sex, pleasure, and your sexual histories, as this shows a caring maturity about the subject and for one another. If you can’t do this together, what are you doing getting naked and intimate together?’
2. Speak with someone older and wiser: As a young person, there should be some adult you can talk to about sex and sexual decision-making. Whether it’s a parent, family member, family friend, nurse, doctor, teacher or other responsible adult, someone who’s been through all of this already is the best person to advise you. Dr Morrissey notes, ‘Research shows the decision to engage in sex is often the first self-perceived “adult” independent decision a young person makes. As such, you should be able to demonstrate your adult maturity by asking questions and discussing sex with an adult, finding out everything you feel you need to know before you engage in it.’
3. Be prepared and protected: You need to protect yourself and your partner by making sure that, if you do decide to have sex, you’re both safe. Dr Morrissey points out, ‘It used to be thought, and sometimes still is by those who don’t know better, that protecting your sexual health meant simply avoiding pregnancy. This is not the case. Not all sexual activities run the risk of pregnancy (particularly of course when the partners are the same gender, but also activities that don’t involve penile-vaginal intercourse). But these activities may still carry sexual health risks.’
If you’re thinking that you can just go to the doctor for medicine if you catch anything, this is an EXTREMELY risky game to play. Only some STIs can be treated, and very few actually have any symptoms to alert you to the fact you’ve been infected. ‘The best thing to do is to prevent contracting any sexually transmitted infection in the first place, since some of them can’t be cured because they are viral,’ Dr Morrissey explains. ‘No-one wants to engage in sex when they think it may be detrimental to their health. This is not an erotic thought for anyone. So rather than fear sex, or associate it with illness and anxiety, it’s best to remove the worry by engaging in safer sex, which includes using barrier methods such as condoms and dams, and making safe choices based on your and your partner’s sexual health.’