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Deciding about sex

a young couple walking together outside

Have you been thinking about having sex? How do you decide? We’ve got some great info for you. Keep reading to learn about:

What is sex? arrow. top

Here are some key points about sex and “fooling around”:

  • When people say “sex,” they usually mean sexual intercourse, or a man putting his penis in a woman’s vagina.
  • There are other types of sexual contact, like touching a partner’s genitals. These also are very personal acts and are worth thinking about in a serious way.
  • It’s possible to get pregnant if a guy ejaculates (“comes”) on the outside of your vagina.
  • You can get some STDs (sexually transmitted diseases, also called sexually transmitted infections or STIs) from giving or receiving oral sex or from genital-to-genital contact that isn’t intercourse. Using a condom can help protect you. 
  • Above all, don’t do anything sexual that doesn’t feel right to you!


In one study, young women were more likely than young men to do something sexual that their partner wanted to do even though they didn’t like doing it. What’s up with that? You can say “no” and take control of your body!

Ways to decide if you’re ready for sex arrow. top

If you are deciding about sex, you’ve got a lot to think about. And it makes sense to do your thinking in advance — not when you’re swept up in the excitement of the moment.

Think about your values, deepest feelings, and future goals. Remember that having sex with someone is no guarantee that you’ll stay together. Not even having a baby together guarantees that. And as much as you care what the other person thinks, it’s what you think that really matters!

For teens, not having sex — abstinence — makes good sense. That’s partly because your chances of staying safe from unplanned pregnancy and HIV and other STDs are better if you wait. It’s also partly because being older can help you handle the strong emotional aspects of sex. Just because your body seems ready doesn’t mean that you are!

If you need help, talk to your parents or guardians, doctor, or another adult you trust.

Questions to ask yourself about sex arrow. top

Thinking about sex?

Take good care of yourself. Know the facts first before you have sex.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help decide about sex:

  • Do you really feel ready to have sex and not just excited about the idea?
  • Do you really trust and feel safe with your partner?
  • Are you feeling pressure — from friends, your partner, or even yourself — or is this something that’s really right for you?
  • Are you doing this because you think everyone else is? (More than half of high schoolers haven’t had sex yet.)
  • Do you feel really nervous — not just a little worried but really concerned or scared?
  • Can you talk to your partner about preventing pregnancy and STDs?
  • Do you know what to do help prevent pregnancy and STDs?
  • Do you know what you would do if you got pregnant?
  • How would you feel if other people found out you had sex?

Remember, you’re in charge of your body and your life!


Content last reviewed April 15, 2014
Page last updated November 25, 2015