The Facts... without the Lecture

Q & A

These questions were submitted by teenagers. 

What’s so bad about having sex at a younger age?

Sex can be a stong emotional experience. The physical part of sex is just one part of it. Not being emotionally ready for your first sexual experience can lead to feelings of regret and disappointment. Sex should be something very special between two people who are in love. There is a better chance that you will feel emotionally ready for sex when you are older.

Is there a health reason as to why it’s not good?

If you have your first sexual experiences early in your life – under 17 – you run a higher risk of getting pregnant or getting a sexually transmitted infection, which may affect you physically for the rest of your life.

Where’s the proof?

A national study, the Irish Study of Sexual Health and Relationships found that girls who have sex before age 17 were 70% more likely to have a crisis pregnancy in their lifetime. It also showed that men and women who had sex before age 17 were twice as likely to get a sexually transmitted infection.

How does someone know that they are ready to have sex?

Good sexual relationships happen when two people both want to have sex, have a deep friendship and love one another, are honest with each other, trust each other and respect each other, have talked about contraception and what might happen if something goes wrong. It normally takes a long time for a relationship like this to develop.

Will I be ready to have sex when I am 17?

No. Although the Age of Consent for sexual intercourse is 17, this does not mean that once you turn 17 you are ready to have sex. Having sex is a major decision in life.

What if one person wants to have sex but the other person doesn’t want to?

Then the couple don’t have sex. Both people have to give consent (agree) to have sex for sex to take place. If one person puts pressure on the other person to do something they don’t want to do, this is a bad sign. It means that the relationship is unhealthy. If a couple have a deep friendship and bond or are in love, they would respect their boyfriends/girlfriends decision not to have sex.

Can you be in love with someone but not want to have sex with them?

Absolutely. Especially when you are a teenager. Having sex is a big decision in life and though you may feel very strongly about someone and really enjoy kissing them and being close to them, it doesn’t mean that you are ready to have sex. A high number of people who have sex for the first time under 17 never have sex with that person again.

If someone really wants to have sex with you, does it mean that they are in love with you?

No. Sexual desire – wanting to have sex – is a natural impulse that people begin to feel as they get older. This feeling is caused by the release of hormones. You can have sexual desire without falling in love. It’s important to learn how to control this impulse, as it is often not appropriate to act on it.

Sometimes when I am kissing someone, I feel that I really want to have sex. Sometimes I might not even fancy the person that much. Does this mean that I am ready to have sex?

Feeling the desire to have sex does not mean that a person is ready to have sex. It is natural to feel this desire, just like it is natural for a girl to have periods, or for a boy to get erections. This is your body preparing itself for becoming an adult. None of these things mean that you are ready to have sex.

What’s masturbation?

Masturbation is touching or rubbing your own genitals. It’s something that is done in private. It can relieve sexual tension that builds up in the body due to hormones. Most people masturbate, but not everyone does.