Sex can be an enjoyable, pleasurable part of a healthy, loving relationship as long as you protect yourself both physically and mentally.
Are you ready?
Before deciding to do anything sexual, look at the list below for things to think about and see if you are ready:
- you feel you could say no and that would be OK – but you still want to do it
- you have made a special connection with someone – and both feel it
- you know your own mind and know it’s right
- you may have some anxieties about it – but not any fear.
- nobody’s forcing you, pressuring you or coercing you
- you know you won’t regret it – as much as you can ever know that
- you don’t need someone else’s permission
- you’re not doing it just to keep up with your friends
- you’ve agreed you’re both in love and want to take this next step together
- you don’t want to have sex to keep a boyfriend/girlfriend or because you’re feeling pressured
- you’ve talked about it together, discussed using condoms and contraception, and agreed what happens next and whether or not to tell your friends afterwards
- you each want it for yourselves – not just because the other person does or to please them
You’re probably ready when you can answer 'yes' to most if not all of these.
Sex, alcohol and drugs
People of all genders and sexual orientations in the UK take drugs or alcohol before sex for various reasons (e.g. to reduce anxiety on approaching a partner, to make sex last longer or thinking it will feel better).
The use of alcohol and drugs can have negative effects on your sexual choices:
- alcohol and drugs lower your inhibitions, making you more likely to take risks with your behaviour, having sex when you otherwise wouldn’t and not thinking about condoms, lube or contraception
- being drunk or high means you’re more likely to damage condoms due to clumsiness or lack of arousal increasing friction and dryness
- you’re more likely to do things you wouldn’t do sober, putting your health and relationships at risk
- rape and sexual abuse are never the victim’s fault, but you are more likely to be vulnerable to abuse or coercion and feel unable to refuse unwanted approaches
- long-term heavy use of alcohol and drugs can lead to infertility and other health problems, as well as negatively affecting your relationships with friends, family and loved ones
Want to talk to someone about alcohol and drugs?
Bromley Changes is a young peoples’ drug and alcohol support service.
They are an outreach team which means that they do not see any service users at their office – instead they will go out within the community to meet with young people. This could be attending a home visit, meeting you at school or at another location.
The Bromley Changes team is made up of experienced workers who have worked with young people from various backgrounds. They give out advice and information around substance misuse, working with young people through either one-to-one interventions or group work.
Sometimes, we trust people with photographs or nude images we have taken of ourselves. Unfortunately, it is becoming more and more common for people to come across these images online, as they have been shared or posted without consent.
A tool called Report Remove has been developed to all people to have nudes removed from the internet. Find out more information about Report Remove here.
The internet, relationships and you
CEOP, the National Crime Agency's Education team, is dedicated to tackling child sexual exploitation and abuse. Their online resource, Think You Know, aims to educate young people aged 11 to 18 about sex, relationships and the internet. Topics they cover include:
- socialising online
- online safety
- support services
- sex and sexual content online
- sexual abuse