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Only you know when you’re really ready to have sex. As you grow up, you will begin to get clear about what you are or aren’t ready for sexually. Talking to adults you trust can also help. When the time comes, it’s important to talk with a partner who cares for and respects you. You should feel comfortable talking about what you’re both comfortable with sexually and how you’ll prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and/or pregnancy.
Most young people wait to have sex until they’re about 18. Only 41 percent of high school students have ever had sex, and very few have sex before getting to high school. Even though it might seem like a lot of people your age are having sex, it’s totally normal to wait until you’re older and ready.
Deciding to have sex for the first time or with a new person is a big decision, and only you can decide if you’re ready. Think about your relationship with the person and whether you care for, trust and respect each other. Make sure the two of you have talked about why you want to have sex, how it might change your relationship, and how you will prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and/or pregnancy. It could also be a good idea to talk to a parent or another trusted adult. If you’re not really sure how you feel or if talking about sex feels uncomfortable, you might not be ready to have sex.
You always have the right to decide not to have sex, even if you’ve done it before. If you don’t feel comfortable or if you’re unsure about continuing to have sex with a partner, it’s totally okay to change your mind, even in the middle of it. A caring, supportive partner will respect your decision.
Sexual development is a normal and healthy part of adolescent development, but most young people (around age 14 and younger) are not yet ready for sex. It’s generally best for young people to explore sexuality in a loving, committed relationship.
People decide for themselves with whom and when they feel ready to have sex. In order to decide, it can be helpful for young people to think through how they feel about their partner, how their partner feels about and treats them, how they will protect themselves from STDs and/or pregnancy, and what things they do and don’t want to do sexually. If young people do not feel comfortable talking with a partner about these things, it’s a good indication that they’re not ready to have sex with that partner or at all.
Many people feel ready to have sex during their teen years and many do not. It’s important to wait until each partner feels confident about the decision before doing anything sexual. Just because someone has had sex with one person, does not mean they must have sex with their next partner. Each person, relationship and situation is unique.
Talking with a parent or another trusted adult about how to make decisions about sex can be a positive source of support for young people.
Starting a conversation about sex with a young person doesn’t have to be awkward or scary. One way to make initiating the conversation more comfortable is to ask young people about characters in a movie or TV show or you can ask about their friends. For example, after watching a movie together, you might ask some of the following questions:
After watching the video with your class, process it using the following discussion questions:
From Advocates for Youth’s Rights, Respect and Responsibility: A K-12 Sexuality Education Curriculum