Sex is a pleasurable and natural part of life. It can strengthen the bond between people within a relationship, and is an expression of the strong emotional and physical desire felt by both for the other. These feelings are the same for everyone, gay or straight. Sexual thoughts and acts are nothing to feel ashamed of or guilty about. They are nature's way of bringing people together.
Many people enjoy sex with one special person who they care deeply for, within a committed and monogamous relationship. Monogamy means being with only one partner. Sex with only one person means having the time to get to know what makes that person feel good, and allowing them to learn the same about you. Sharing your body with only one special person also provides a safe and consistent environment to experiment, build sexual confidence and learn to overcome self-consciousness. This can lead to a very fulfilling, relaxed and enjoyable sex life.
Some people prefer to have casual sex. This generally means staying single and having the freedom to enjoy sex with different people. This might involve meeting someone new each week in a bar, arranging casual hook-ups online, or perhaps having a few 'friends with benefits'. Some people choose to have open relationships. This means having an agreement with a boyfriend or girlfriend that allows each other to have sex with other people too. There’s nothing wrong with casual sex if it makes a person happy and they don’t hurt or mislead anyone in the process.
Consider the following if you are thinking of starting a sexual relationship:
In the UK it is illegal to have sex (heterosexual or homosexual) under the age of 16. This is different in other countries so make sure you know what the age of consent is where you live. The Avert website has more information on this topic and a comprehensive age of consent list by country.
Your sexual health is important. While the existence of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) like gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia and HIV needn't stop you enjoying sex, you need to be aware of how to protect yourself and where to go for help if you think you have been exposed (usually a 'Genito-Urinary Medicine' or GUM clinic). It's also a good idea to have a regular checkup, especially if you have more than one regular sexual partner. See Avert's and the NHS's websites for more information about safe sex for young people.
Are you ready?
A virgin is a person who has never had sex. A person only loses their virginity once so try to be sure it’s with the right person. Many people regret drunken first-time sex with someone they don’t find attractive or don't have feelings for.
People begin sexual activity at different ages and you should only have sex if you feel ready. Don’t be pressured by someone else or feel there’s a rush to lose your virginity because your friends have. Just because the body seems to be ready doesn't mean that a person is emotionally ready. If your girlfriend or boyfriend really cares for you, they will be patient.
Do whatever feels good for you in bed. You can have fun in a variety of ways and it’s okay to say no to something that you don’t want to do. Many young gay men worry that anal sex is something they have to do or that all gay men do it, but this isn't true. Nobody has to do anything in bed that they don't want to do.
You might have worried that going to bed with a same-sex partner requires a special manual. You may also have worried about missing out on vital skills because schools don't talk about gay couples in sex education. But sex is very intuitive and straightforward for gay and straight people. It's all just bodies coming together, responding to touch. Mother nature didn't make it complicated. After all, humans might be the only animals on Earth who can make websites about it, but every other species manages to have sex just fine without a guide!
With experience you'll learn about your body and what feels good, as well as ways to give pleasure, but the basic instincts are in all of us even from the start. Don't overthink sex. Let your body guide you.
It’s normal to be shy about talking about sex. Many of us are raised by parents who avoid talking about it and we end up with a sense of embarrassment and awkwardness around sex. But if you’re old enough to have sex then you’re old enough to talk about it! Being able to talk about sex will enable you to communicate what you do and don’t like in bed, deal with problems, and ask for help if you’re worried about something. It’s okay to talk and even laugh during the sex itself.
Sex is a fun part of life to be enjoyed. There’s no script or list of rules and sex is rarely like you see it in films. Sex can be clumsy, messy and really quite silly! Don’t stress about sex. Do what feels right for you and enjoy it safely.
Real sex isn't like a porno film. Body shapes and the size of body parts vary greatly, so don't feel inadequate because you haven't got 10 inches, or boobs the size of beachballs. Few people do. Porn models are chosen for their above average attributes, so don't waste time comparing yourself. Real sex does not have size requirements.
Forget positioning yourself for the imaginary camera and scrap those cheesy porn lines you've heard. I've not met anyone yet who likes being referred to as 'that ass' or 'that dick'. It reduces a whole person to merely a body part that's being used.
Porno roles are often one-sided, with one person 'serving' the other and often being spoken to in a degrading way. Don't treat the person you're in bed with as if they are there only to provide pleasure to you. Real sex is about both of you having a good time and feeling satisfied.
In most porn films you may have noticed that there isn't much kissing, touching with hands or body-to-body contact, the focus is on genitals and penetration. Real sex is about the whole body. Yours and theirs.
Masturbating means manually stimulating your genitals i.e. touching your penis or vagina with your hands or using objects. Slang terms for masturbation include wanking, tossing off and jerking off.
Masturbation is a natural way of enjoying and exploring your body. It is a way of discovering what feels good for you and is an outlet for strong sexual feelings that can build up and become distracting in your daily life. Most people masturbate: whether in a sexual relationship or not, young or old, male or female, gay or straight. Some people look at pornography (sexual imagery) when they masturbate, or fantasise about someone they are attracted to.
Masturbation is nothing to feel guilty about or ashamed of. Masturbation is a safe and enjoyable way of exploring sexual feelings and learning about your body.