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Simplified Sex Ed: How to Have Sex for the First Time


A sign reads "sex education" so readers know how to have sex for the first time.

Having sex for the first time can seem really overwhelming, and a lot of people report feeling a little nervous; they often worry it will hurt or that they won’t know what they’re doing and be “bad” at sex. First and foremost, there is no “good” or “bad” when it comes to sex, but rather, compatibility. Here are some important things to know about sex to make sure everyone feels comfortable and has fun (yes, you can and should enjoy sex your first time!).


What You Need to Know Before Starting Sexual Activity


Types of Sex

There are different types of sex that you can engage in including solo sex, manual sex, oral sex, anal sex, and penetrative sex to name a few.

Masturbation, or solo sex, is when someone stimulates their own genitals for sexual pleasure. Masturbating is a great way to learn what you like and help you better advocate for your pleasure when you have sex with a partner for the first time.

Manual stimulation is using the hands to stimulate your partner’s penis, clitoris, and/or vagina. This is often called a “handjob” or “fingering.”

Oral sex is mouth to genital contact. It is typically referred to as “eating out/going down,” “blowjobs,” and “head.”

Anal sex is any type of stimulation to the anus. This could be done with fingers, a tongue, a penis, or a toy designated for sex.

Sexual intercourse is typically thought of as penetrative sex or penis in vagina sex (in the case of heterosexual sex).


Safe Sex Basics

In order to have safe sex, consent and contraception are key. From a hygeine standpoint, it is a good idea to urinate before, but more importantly, after sex. This helps keep the body clean from bacteria and prevent UTIs. If you have a vagina and notice blood after sex, no need to panic – it is entirely normal if your vagina bleeds the first time.



Consent, or permission, must be given/received for all sexual acts. Consent is given freely and enthusiastically. Check in with your partner every time you try something new. For example, you might say:

“Is it okay if I touch you here?”

“Can I put my [fingers/tongue/penis] in your [vagina/anus]”

You will NOT ruin the mood by asking for consent. Additionally, consent can be revoked at any time during sex. Whether that means you just want to stop that particular activity or if you want to stop sex all together, you can say no.

You should never feel forced to continue sexual activity. No matter what a partner may say to get you to keep going, if you feel uncomfortable, you have the right to stop.



Contraception, or birth control, can be incredibly important. Even if one partner is taking hormonal birth control pills, a condom should be used for all sex (vaginal, anal, or oral). Condoms are a great way to reduce the risk of transmitting infections and pregnancy.

Before you have sex, you should ask your partner if they have been sexually active before. If so, it is a good idea to ask if they have been tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).  Even if neither partner has an STI, condoms should still be used.


4 Tips for Having Enjoyable Sex Your First Time

Set the Mood

Before having sex, setting the mood can be a great way to relax.  This can be done by lighting a candle, making and listening to a playlist that makes you feel sexy, and/or setting lights to the brightness you want them.


Foreplay is what comes before sex, and it is key to having enjoyable sex. This can include kissing, touching, licking, massaging, imaginative play – whatever feels good for you and your partner! Oral sex is a great way to engage in foreplay that actually makes orgasm more likely.


No matter how turned on a person with a vagina may feel, it is normal to experience vaginal dryness. In order to have enjoyable penetrative sex, you should always use a water based lube. You can find them at any convenience store, but there are also natural lubricants that could work in a pinch.


While you are having sex, you should be talking to your partner about what feels good and what doesn’t. Communication can be as simple as saying “yes” when your partner is doing something you enjoy. It can also be you moving their hands to where you want them. Communication doesn’t always need to be verbal, but be sure you and your partner understand how the other likes to communicate.


Don’t Forget to Debrief After Sex

After sex, you and your partner might take time to talk about the sex you just had. A great way to initiate this is by telling your partner what you enjoyed and asking them what they enjoyed. You can ask them about a specific thing you did or just what they liked in general:

“It felt so good when you did ___.  Did you like when I did ___?”

You can also open up a conversation on what you didn’t love as much; you’re not going to like everything in sex, and that’s okay and normal! You just need to be honest about it. Otherwise, your partner may try it again.

“I didn’t like the feeling of ___.  Next time, I would love it if you did ___ instead.”

“Is there anything that you would rather I do differently next time? Is there something you’d like to try next time?”

Talking about the sex you just had can help ensure that you continue to have sex that you enjoy and want to be having, and it can help you and your partner decide what you may want to try in the future.

You may or may not have an orgasm the first time you have sex – either is totally okay! As long as you are having safe sex that you enjoy, an orgasm may not be necessary for pleasure. The best way to ensure safety is to make sure you are using consent, communication, and proper contraception. Once you feel safe, you can enjoy great sex by setting the mood, using foreplay and lubricant, and again, communicating!

Modern Intimacy is a group therapy practice, founded by renowned Psychologist and Sex Therapist, Dr. Kate Balestrieri. This inclusive blog is designed to provide a wealth of information and resources for mental health, relationships, and sexuality. Subscribe today to get the latest information from our expert contributors from all around the world.


Author Bio

Jessie is the Digital Media Coordinator at Modern Intimacy. A recent graduate of the University of Miami (FL), with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health and Psychology, she hopes to become a clinical psychologist and a certified sex therapist. She is passionate about empowering women to speak up in a professional and a personal setting.



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