Regardless of age, gender or sexuality, the first time you have sex is an exciting milestone in life that can cement the growing love between you and your partner. But with that comes a certain set of expectations that can cause a build-up of nerves in the days before your romantic encounter. With that in mind, we’ve put together a few helpful pieces of information in an effort to reduce those nerve-wracking ‘what-ifs’.
DON'T BE PRESSURED
It might seem ridiculous to be nervous about something as common as sex, but considering the intimacy and trust involved, it is common to lack confidence when taking that step for the first time. One of the most important things to remember is that you’re in charge of when you want to do it. Regardless of what people around you seem to be doing, the decision to have sex comes down to individual choice, and ultimately can only be made by you. It’s important to know the legal age of consent, but beyond that there is no wrong or right time to take that step.
If your relationship is as important to your partner as it is to you, they’ll understand how you feel; and if you need to wait, they will wait for you. If you go into sex feeling unprepared and not ready, you are unlikely to enjoy it and may end up regretting it.
If you are unsure of your sexual orientation during this time, the pressure can feel even more intimidating. The process of understanding your own gender and sexual identities can be a confusing and difficult time to evaluate, both emotionally and physically. In this instance, it’s even more important to take things slowly and decide if the person you’re planning on sleeping with is the right one for you.
DON'T COMPARE YOURSELF
In the body-conscious world of 21st Century Britain, men can suffer from serious image concerns, with research showing that four in five males show to have an anxiety about their body image. 29% of those polled also thought about their appearance at least five times a day.
The statistics are even more notable among men who identify as homosexual, with a recent poll by Attitude magazine showing that a huge 84% of gay men feeling intense pressure to have a ‘good’ body possibly due to the way they are represented on television and in film.
When it comes to women, a staggering 75% felt anxious about the way themselves and others perceived their bodies. It is estimated that the prevalence of body dysmorphic disorder is about 5 in every 1,000 people throughout the United Kingdom, which is likely to have a huge impact on sexual confidence and quality of life.
When it comes to sex, our fears are even more pronounced as we compare ourselves to representations of the body seen in the media and pornography. It’s easy to look at the performers in an adult film and be concerned that we don’t quite measure up, whether that be in muscle mass or even penis or breast size. Being content with your own body is easier said than done of course, but if the person lying in bed next to you ever makes you feel inadequate physically, perhaps it’s worth questioning whether they are the right person to be with.
A new relationship can be an exciting and overwhelming time for couples, and in the furore surrounding first time preparation and nerves, it’s pretty easy to forget about putting on a condom. You may also feel some embarrassment or worry that bringing up safe sex might ruin the mood. However, engaging in sex without contraception puts you at risk of contracting a range of STDs, and, for heterosexual cisgender couples, pregnancy.
Cases of HIV are on the rise in the UK, with gay men being one of the groups with the highest risk of contracting the disease. In 2014, there were over 3,000 new cases of HIV diagnosed in the gay community, nearly double the figure from 2001. Of the more common STDs, chlamydia is the most common in England, with over 200,000 cases reported in 2015.
Though considered less at risk, gay women still need to engage in safe sex in order to avoid passing infections through oral sex and the sharing of sex toys. The statistics in the heterosexual community paint a similar picture to those who identify as LGBT. In 2014, 968 straight men and just over 1,200 straight women were diagnosed with HIV.
While there are a number of options available when it comes to contraception, the condom reduces the risk of contracting STDs as well as the risk of unwanted pregnancy. With a huge variety of condoms on the market; from flavoured to extra thin, you can help protect yourself and your new lover from unwanted pregnancies and infections, and have fun in the process. Dental dams can be used for cunnilingus (oral sex performed on a female) and if you and your partner want to use sex toys together it’s important to ensure you wash them regularly and avoid sharing.
TRY TO RELAX
Sex can be awkward, there’s no escaping that, and sometimes it can be pretty funny too, so be sure to choose a partner who puts you at ease and allows you to relax. If it’s your first time, the more you relax, the more likely you are to enjoy it.
Don’t allow yourself to get bogged down with labels. If you’re a gay man, don’t worry about discussing who’s going to top or who’s going to bottom; everything will come naturally and the person you’ve chosen to sleep with should completely understand, whether it’s their first time or not.
You may want to consider using a Durex massage gel and lube to help make you feel more comfortable. A mutual massage can help relax the body before engaging in intercourse while the lubricant will pay dividends in reducing that awkward atmosphere you’ve worked so hard to avoid. It will also help limit the discomfort you could feel if this is your first time.
Whatever your gender and sexual identities, the first time you have sex is likely to be an intense experience, but the upside of this is of course the opportunity to connect with someone on a level you may not have encountered previously. Keep in mind these simple tips to ensure you have a first-time experience that’s relaxing and ultimately satisfying for both you and your lover.