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Feeling the pressure

It is your decision when to have sex

Knowing when you are ready to have sex can be hard but there are some questions you can ask yourself that can help. It is your decision when to have sex and not having sex is okay.

When will I be ready to have sex?

Sex can be great, it can make you feel good and it can make you feel closer to your partner. But it can also leave you feeling disappointed and upset.

Going out with someone doesn’t mean you have to have sex. It is your decision when to have sex.

Despite what your friends tell you or the media might want you to believe, not everyone is having sex.

In Aotearoa New Zealand, the average age when people first have sex is 16 to 17 years old – but you’re not unusual if you wait until you’re older.

Some people will wait until they’re married or in a committed relationship.

How do I know if I’m ready to have sex?

It might be hard to tell if you’re ready to have sex. Peer pressure, fear of losing someone if you don’t have sex with them, hormones, lust and curiosity could be influencing you.

Deciding to have sex for the first time or the first time with a new partner is a big decision. Try asking yourself the following questions:

  • Does it feel right?
  • Are you sure you want to have sex?
  • Do you feel safe with your partner? Will he/she stop if you change your mind?
  • Have you talked about what you want to do? If you are too embarrassed to talk about it, maybe you are not ready to get so intimate
  • Have you weighed up the risks? It is possible to get pregnant the first time you have sex, whether you do it lying down, standing up or sideways
  • Have you talked about using condoms and contraception? Condoms/pukoro ure are important – you can get a sexually transmissible infection if your partner has had sex before and has an infection
  • If it’s too hard to have these conversations are you ready to share so much of yourself?
  • Have you checked out the law? The age of consent for sex in Aotearoa New Zealand is 16
  • If you live with your parents, what would they think? You might need their support and if you can talk to them about your relationships, it will help keep their trust.

Talk about these questions with your partner. Make sure you feel safe and respected. Talk about how you feel and how far you want to go. If one of you isn’t into it then it’s not on.

What if I’m not ready?

It is okay to decide to delay having sex, or remain abstinent until you are ready, whether that means waiting for a committed relationship or, in some cases, marriage.

What is abstinence?

Abstinence means not having sex of any kind with a partner. Abstinence:

  • is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy
  • prevents STIs
  • has no medical or hormonal side effects
  • is free.


You might choose abstinence for some of these reasons:

  • ensure you don’t get pregnant
  • protect yourself against STIs
  • wait until you’re ready for a sexual relationship
  • wait to find the right partner
  • have fun with romantic partners without sexual involvement
  • focus on school, career, sport or other activities
  • support your personal, moral, or religious beliefs and values
  • get over a breakup
  • heal from the death or loss of your partner
  • follow medical advice during an illness or infection.

Talking with your partner about your decision not to have sex is important, whether or not you've had sex before.

But, only you should control your sex life. Make sure it’s your choice if, or when, you have sex with someone.

Remember, young people talk a lot about sex but not everyone is doing it.

 Feeling the Pressure

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.

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