Am I ready to have sex?

Dear Michele,
So, my boyfriend and I have been going out for a year. I love him sooooo much, and things are great, but lately we’re just having a lot more trouble fighting temptation. I’ve sworn (to myself) to stay a virgin till I’m out of highschool (I don’t need accidents in high school), but…is it worth it? Am I just too young? Both of us fully intended to be safe and stuff, but I just don’t know anymore. It feels right, but I just don’t want to regret anything if I decide to just go ahead and not wait. Do I wait? Do I just not wait? In today’s society, does virginity even matter anymore??
–Ready? or Not?

Dear R?,

Sex isn’t like baking cookies—there’s not a timer that dings and says “Ready!” The right time to have sex is different for every person and every relationship.

(Virginity and sex also mean different things to different people: for some people, any kind of contact with the genitals is considered sex; others engage in oral sex (mouth to genital contact) but still consider themselves virgins if they haven’t had vaginal intercourse. In responding to this advice question, I am talking about vaginal intercourse, where a penis enters the vagina.)

Although there’s no one right time, there are some prerequisites: I think every female should read the book OUR BODIES OURSELVES before becoming sexually active. And every couple should read the entire guide on the Its Your (Sex) Life website. Because knowing your body and how sex works is the number one way to insure that you will have a satisfying and safe time with your chosen partner. The more you know, the less risk you face and the greater the reward will be. It is also showing yourself the kind of respect you deserve. So, have you read OUR BODIES OURSELVES? No? Go read it and come back.

Back already? Ok, then lets move on.

You are NOT READY to have sex if:
You are not prepared to be mature and safe about it
You don’t even know what ‘mature and safe’ mean in this context
You can’t say the words penis or vagina to your partner
You don’t know how to use a condom and have never practiced putting one on an item from the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator.
You think I’m kidding about that.
You don’t have an additional method of contraception.
(You have not read OUR BODIES OURSELVES.)

You ARE ready to have sex if:
Ha! Like I said, that’s personal and different for every person.
I’ve put together 10 questions that both you and your partner should go over, to help figure out if the time is right.

1. Am I doing this because I genuinely want to, not because I think I should to please either my partner or my friends?
2. Do I know my partner well enough?
3. Do I feel comfortable enough to do this sober?
4. Do I know enough about sex? Do I understand my anatomymy partner’s anatomy, how sex works and which parts of my body are the most sensitive?
5. Do I understand the risks of sexually transmitted diseases,
HIV and pregnancy, and how to minimize those risks?
6. When I’m older, will I be glad I lost my virginity at this age and in this way?
7. Can I talk to my partner about sex and contraception? Can I use words like penis and vagina, and explain what feels good to me?
8. Do I have a condom, and know how to use it? As well as a second method of contraception?
9. Does this fit in with my beliefs?
10. Is it legal in my state?

If you answered no to ANY of these questions, you’re not ready.

If you answered yes to ALL of them, you MIGHT be. But only if you and your partner both want to, and have both read OUR BODIES OURSELVES.
Kidding. About the reading part. Sort of.

The reason I keep stressing that is because the only kind of sex worth having, the only kind I want any of you to ever consider, is safe sex. That doesn’t just mean taking precautions so you won’t get pregnant or a disease. It means being comfortable both with your partner and yourself, and knowing it’s what you want to do.

Sex isn’t going anywhere. If you’re not sure you’re ready, there are a lot of other things you and a partner can do that feel great and intimate and don’t involve intercourse. But if you do think you’re ready, remember: the more you know about your body, the more you will enjoy the experience and the healthier you will be. Safe sex is more satisfying sex. And that is something worth waiting for.

Airkisses! See you NEXT YEAR and ’til then, be superawesomeatastic!

Dr. J

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