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Thinking About Having Sex

It’s important that you think through your decision to have sex with someone. You might want to discuss it, not only with your partner, but with people whom you trust. This could include a friend, an older sibling, a counselor, a religious leader, your parents or a medical doctor. Talking about sex with a person you are sexually attracted to – whether that person is a friend, acquaintance or your boyfriend or girlfriend – will help you both workout if you want to begin a sexual relationship.

Suggestions for safe sex. It’s always important that you engage in safe sex. This means making sure you don’t risk becoming pregnant unless you want to, or catching a sexually transmitted disease (STD) like HIV/AIDS, herpes, chlamydia or gonorrhea. It’s a good idea to find out about safe sex, how different STDs are passed on and how to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Using condoms with water-based lubricants and dental dams are one way to protect yourself from some STDs.

Remember before having sex with a new partner, it’s best if you both get tested for STDs. That way you can both be free to express your feelings for one another and be safe. Learn more about the STD testing process.

Saying no. Sometimes people think they can demand that someone be sexual with them, or force them to have sex against their will. Remember: No one has the right to force you to have sex. You have the right to say no.

When can I legally have sex? The answer to this question depends on the state in which you live. Consensual sex laws – which determine the age at which you can legally agree to have sex – vary from state to state, but for the most part require that you be at least 18 years old to consent. If you’re younger than 18, check out the laws in your state before deciding to become intimate with anyone.

Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at ReachOut.com, a website that helps teens get through tough times.

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