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Losing your virginity?

What is the right age to lose your virginity?

This is a complicated issue. Many people disagree over when young people should first start having sex. Although there are many different sexual activities (such as touching, masturbation, and oral sex), many people use the word "sex" to mean penis-in-vagina intercourse. 'Losing your virginity' means having penis-in-vagina intercourse for the first time.

The law in Canberra (Australia) says that young people can decide to have intercourse once they are 16 years old, as long as both people agree (consent), and the other person is not a close family member. The law is the same for heterosexual sex (between a female and a male) and homosexual sex (between two females or two males).

So it is legal for you to have intercourse once you have turned 16. 16 is the "age of consent" - the age when you can legally have sex. Of course, some young people choose to have sex under the age of 16.

The 'right' age to have first sex varies from one young person to another. Some young people choose to have sex at a young age, while others only have first sex when they are much older.

There are good and bad reasons for having sex.

Some good or okay reasons for having sex are;

  • Feeling that you are ready to have intercourse, you've thought about it, and it is what you want.
  • Because you've been enjoying kissing, touching, and other sexual activities, and you want to go further and experience intercourse.
  • Interest in or curiousity about intercourse, e.g. about how it will feel.
  • Feeling that sexual intercourse is an expression of the closeness, intimacy or love between you and the other person. That intercourse is a way to feel closer, or special, or loved and loving.

Some bad reasons for having sex are;

  • To make the other person happy.
  • To make the other person love you. (Sex doesn't necessarily prove love, and it doesn't necessarily make people more in love.)
  • To make it more likely that the other person will stay with you - the worry that they will leave you if you don't have sex with them.
  • Thinking that having intercourse will make you feel older or more grown up.
  • Because everybody else is doing it. (They're probably not, and even if they are, that doesn't mean you have to as well.)
  • Because you are being pressured, guilt-tripped or forced into it.

Some people have intercourse for the first time with their boyfriend or girlfriend, i.e. someone they've been with for a while. Some people have intercourse for the first time with someone they don't know and haven't been with before, e.g. in a 'one-night stand' or in something casual.

If you are thinking about having sex for the first time, you should;

  • Make sure that you are sure you want to have sex. Have you thought about why you want to have sex, what you expect from it, what worries or scares you about it, what you think it will be like?
  • Make sure that you will be safe and protected from pregnancy and diseases. The best way to do this is by using condoms, as they protect against both pregnancy and diseases. You can talk to a doctor, family planning clinic or sexual health clinic about the options available to you.

It can also really help if you can;

  • Talk to your partner about these issues: what you expect from sex, what worries you both, how it might change your relationship, whether sex means the same thing to you both.
  • Talk to your partner about how you'll protect yourselves and each other.
  • Talk to people you trust about your feelings and decision, such as a friend, parent, school counsellor or other trusted adults.

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