How to have sex and how to make it good, especially for the first time. It should feel nice, not painful or uncomfortable.
Sadly, a lot of what we are taught about sex is not true. For example that first time sex always hurts, not true. Or that ‘sex’ only means vaginal sex (penis in vagina), which is also not true.
First and foremost:
First time sex should feel really good especially if you know the kind of sex you both want to have, if you feel comfortable together and you can communicate.
Do you want to do it?
Remember that the only reason good reason to have sex is that you actually want to do it. You’re not doing it for anyone else, or to prove yourself, or to say you’ve done it, or to show you love someone etc etc. There’s more about this in the Should I Have Sex post.
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What is ‘it?’
People often think they know what ‘having sex’ means, but actually they don’t. Don’t assume that sex is just penetration, it isn’t. A lot of people don’t have the kinds of bodies that can enjoy penetration and a lot of people find it painful and uncomfortable.
So you should think about sex differently and think about the many different kinds of sex that you might want to have (not the kinds of sex you should have). This post about working out what kind of sex you want to have can help you with this.
Learn more about what is sex, about lots of the different kinds and how to do them safely and consensually.
Take your time
It’s important to take your time for first time sex, yes to ‘make it special’, but also to make sure that you both have enough time to get comfortable, get turned on and to actually enjoy it. Quickies can be fun, but probably not for first time sex. I know that young people don’t get that much private time where they can be alone, but try and give yourself a couple of hours.
Try to give yourselves a couple of hours so you have enough time to get used to each other and to get over how strange it might feel at first.
Sex should never feel painful at all – if it is please both stop. However it might feel a little bit strange at first and there’s a lot to get used to. Taking clothes off with someone, touching someone and having someone touching you for the first time can all feel really weird at first. So it’s good to have a bit of time to get used to it and to be able to talk about how it’s feeling.
Also, don’t try to do everything at one visit. If you’re new to someone or new to sex, it can feel really strange at first and a bit overwhelming. So even if you have a list of things that you would like to try, don’t aim to do them all in one go. Just try one or two things and see how you both respond to it. This also puts less pressure on you both and makes it more consensual.
Find the right place
You might not have your own place or have enough cash for a hotel room, so finding somewhere to do it can be tricky. However you should be inside, in a private space where you can close the door so that no-one will interrupt (and where no-one else has to hear what you get up to #consent).
In order to enjoy sex you need to be relaxed and comfortable and not worrying about being interrupted.
Sometimes parents or carers will allow their kids to do it in their house, or might ‘turn a blind eye’ if they go out for an evening, or they might not. Remember it can be difficult for parents to deal with this: what would you do if you were a parent of a teen?
Being turned on
If you aren’t really feeling it then don’t do it! Both people need to be turned on and relaxed for sex to be good. Wanting sex and being turned on aren’t the same thing – as you can read more about desire and arousal here.
Whatever bits you have in your pants, they should be throbbing.
Vaginas will usually be quite moist; if it isn’t then the sex may feel painful, especially if the vaginal corona is tight. The vagina expands and relaxes when sexually aroused (turned on), this means that fingers, a sex toy or a penis should slide in without it hurting. If it hurts, please stop. This is why it’s important to get really turned on first with stroking, nibbling, kissing, holding, is very important. Learn more about the clitoris and vagina here.
For extra wetness use some water based lubricant: for anal sex or sex with toys, use loads of it (the anus doesn’t respond to sexual arousal in the same way as the vagina does). Water based lube is safe to use with condoms.
Penises get hard when turned on but not always. It can be hard to get a hard on sometimes: nerves, pre-sex tension, worries (‘will they like it’, ‘this is the first time anyone has seen my hard on’, ‘will their parents be back soon’ etc) can all seriously affect the hardness of a penis. Once an erection arrives it can soon go away too, but once it goes away it can also come back quickly too. You can read more about why the hard on is tricky
As I said at the top, a lot of people are told that vaginal sex = sex. It’s not. Remember that many, if not most people actually prefer having different kinds of sex. Read more about why penis in vagina sex can be ‘meh‘ here.
Stress stops you being aroused
If you get stressed your body can stop you from getting aroused. It’s as simple as that. Blood is diverted from your genitals; your sight and/or hearing adjusts to listen out for threats; and your muscles tense up rather than relax. Your body just takes and does this even with quite small things: fearing being body shamed; concerns about getting caught; expecting it to be painful. So read more about how to deal with stress here. If you (or your partner) are feeling stressed, just pause and breathe out before you do any more sexing.
They make entry sex (penis in vagina or penis in anus sex) look dead easy in films – one person gets in between the legs of the other and easily slides into them – but it’s not as easy as it looks. If you’re doing it for the first time then it’s a good idea to masturbate each other for a bit first.
You could also insert a small wet, finger inside your partner first. Do this slowly and carefully allowing for the entrance of the vagina or anus to gently open up. When your partner is more relaxed you can move your finger around and then insert another finger. This makes the opening big enough to insert a penis or sex toy (not lego). It helps for other person to guide their partner to the right place.
If you’re going to have entry sex you need to go really slowly and carefully at first. Nothing should be pushed in.
Then put the hard penis (inside a condom) or toy inside, very very slowly at first. Slowly slowly. Keep checking in with each other that this feels okay. If it does then you can gradually build up the speed and hardness if you want. Once the penis is sliding in and out easily you can decide to move more quickly and hard, or do it slowly and deeply.
If you have a penis it’s important to be slow and patient even if you are worried about losing your hard on. If feel like your hard on is going away, please don’t rush the other person or just push your dick inside the other person until they are fully ready. This can hurt them.
The ‘best’ position
In my opinion people are a bit obsessed with the right position for sex. Finding the right position depends on what you both like, how mobile you are and what kind of sex you want. There are no rules and no magic positions: just do what feels good.
If you’re doing it for the first time it might be best to choose a position where you are both facing each other. Communication (both with or without words) is easier when you can see each others faces. Apart from that it’s all about finding out what the best sex position is for you.
If you’ve talked about the kind of sex you want to do and don’t want to do then you may have an idea of what to expect. However if things start feeling uncomfortable or not what you expected then you should both stop.
During sex it’s important to really pay attention to whether each other are enjoying it.
You can use words and short phrases (which are often easier to blurt out) whilst you’re doing it. You can also do sex talk through other noises, facial expressions and the way we touch each other. Allow yourself to make these kinds of noises and indications if things are feeling good.
Doing this also can increase how enjoyable sex is because you are communicating with each other what feels good. That can build between you because we all enjoy things more when the person we are doing it with enjoys it too. It also makes sex more consensual if we can communicate in this way all through sex. Read this about consent and sex and how to do it.
In films, TV, porn and books everyone has orgasms really easily. Orgasms can feel great during sex, but not everyone has them when they have sex with someone. Different people need different kinds of sex and touch to have orgasms. For instance penis in vagina sex is usually more stimulating for the penis than the vagina.
Also it can be difficult for people to ‘let go’ during sex and have an orgasm. When you really want something it can make it harder – just like when you really need to get to sleep but can’t? So try and chill, take the pressure off and just feel what feels nice. Sometimes people aren’t that fussed about having orgasms or not (but don’t assume that someone isn’t interested in orgasms). Read this article about orgasms for more about this.
In my opinion I think that it’s just better to aim for sex to be enjoyable for both of you, rather than ‘make’ someone have an orgasm. It’s an activity you are both taking part in together – it’s not a competition.
How good should it feel?
If you do all of this, with someone you like and trust, then sex can feel pretty amazing. How great sex feels is difficult to say but sometimes it feels nice, comforting, intimate. Sometimes it feels exciting, exhilarating, passionate, knee trembling. Sometimes both!
If it feels bad, disgusting, scary-in-a-bad-way, unsafe, boring, just something you are doing because you think you ought to: then why are you doing it at all? If you want to learn how to be good at sex I made a little animated video about that.
© Justin Hancock, 2021.
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Justin Hancock has been a trained sex and relationships educator since 1999. In that time he’s taught and given advice about sex and relationships with thousands of young people in person and millions online. Find out more about Justin here