What is sex like? FAQ's

    |    Updated: 25th April, 2017    |    8 min read

What is sex, and what’s it really like? Is everyone doing it? What’s the legal age you can have sex? Here’s some answers to common questions.

What is ‘having sex’? Is oral sex ‘real’ sex?

Although some people say that only vaginal sex is ‘real sex’, we think that all these different kinds of sex count as ‘sex’. The closeness, trust and vulnerability that you feel when you get it on with someone is the same for all kinds of sex.

Read more about different types of sex here. On a darker note, the legal definitions of unwanted sex or rape includes all kinds of sex, not just penis-vagina sex.

What’s it like having sex for the first time? Will it hurt?

You can’t predict what it’ll be like, but thinking about who, when and how you want it to happen can help make it what you want it to be. Don’t expect the first time to be the most amazing experience of your life.Trying anything for the first time can be a funny mix of nerves, uncertainty and excitement. Sex is no different.

REAL STORY: ‘The first time I had sex was kind of weird and awkward. I didn’t feel really turned on – I just wanted to do it to see what it was like. We had been together for a few months. Took a while with him trying to get the condom on, and then I had to help him to find the right place to put it in! It hurt at first so I told him to slow down. Then it started to feel good but he came quickly and that was it. I can’t say I totally enjoyed it – but I thought, at least now I’ve done it, so I know what everyone’s talking about’

Most people say the first time wasn’t the best time (by far) or that it wasn’t what they expected. It might be a bit uncomfortable or painful, or it might be over quickly if one of you comes quickly. It might feel weird being naked with someone else. It can be embarrassing – fumbling, tripping over half-removed undies, noises, sheets getting sticky with sweat or bodily substances. Or it might be fantastic.

And after you’ve had sex for the first time, it’s not like you feel or look different either, or that you’re automatically more mature.

Is it ok to be a virgin?

It’s ok to stay a virgin – take all the time you want, until you feel ready and you’ve found the right person and situation to have sex for the first time.

If you take your time, you give yourself more of a chance to get to know your own body, and to get to know your boyfriend or girlfriend, to develop trust in your relationship, and to feel comfortable talking to them about what you like or don’t like.

When do I lose my virginity if I’m gay?

While we think that “sex ” includes oral sex, vaginal sex and anal sex, and kind of gay or lesbian sex, here we’re going along with what most people believe – that “losing your virginity” and “first time sex” is the first time you have penetrative sex i.e. vaginal sex.
Basically, we think that the term “losing your virginity” needs a makeover to include all kinds of sex. But since that hasn’t happened yet, the stuff we talk about here is about girls and guys having vaginal, penetrative sex for the first time.

How many young people are having sex? Is everyone doing it?

Not everyone is doing it – in fact, quite a lot of secondary school students have never had sex.
According to a national survey of secondary students in Australia in 2008, about a quarter of year 10 students and over half of the year 12 students had had penetrative sex. Many students though have done something sexual like tongue kissing, fingering, or oral sex.

What’s the right age to be having sex?

There’s a huge range of who does what and when. For example, that Australian survey found that just over half of Year 12 secondary school students had had sex, and almost half of them hadn’t. And although around two thirds of them had touched someone or been touched sexually, more than half of them had never had oral sex.

When am I legally allowed to have sex?

Legally, there is a minimum age for when you are considered old enough to say yes to sex – even if you feel ready. That age can vary depending on the situation and what state you live in. Find out the legal age for sex in your state at Lawstuff.

The reason there is a legal ‘age of consent’ is to make sure that people are mature enough and know enough about people, their bodies and safe sex, to make an ‘informed’ decision to have sex. The most important thing is to know as much as you can before making your own decision.

It’s completely wrong and illegal for anyone in a position of power to have a romantic or sexual relationship with you: teachers, coaches, relatives, friends’ fathers. Talk to a trusted adult in this situation.

Why is sex a big deal?

Sex is everywhere: in magazines, online, movies and songs. It might seem like everyone’s doing it and it’s no big deal… so is it? Here’s why we think deciding to have sex IS a big deal – both physically and emotionally.

Sex can feel fantastic. But it isn’t the only thing in the world – or even the most important part of a relationship. You don’t have to have sex – it doesn’t automatically make you more mature. And you can still have a good relationship and not have sex.

Deciding to have sex IS a big deal though. Sex isn’t just a physical act – it also involves emotions. And there are a few risks involved.

It’s a big deal because…

#1 It can feel really good

And it can be pretty amazing to be intimate and have this kind of pleasure with another person.

#2 There are feelings involved

Sex is not just a physical act – there can be pretty intense feelings involved. Emotionally, it might feel amazing to be that close to someone else – but also you might feel vulnerable. You are showing a different side of yourself – and you’re naked!

#3 Your first time is an especially big deal

It’s better if you

  • feel that you’re ready and then
  • think about how you’d like it to be that first time.

#4 It’s a risky business

There are physical risks like getting pregnant or getting a sexually transmitted infection. So it’s important that you have safe sex.

There are also emotional risks. Sex can change your relationship and affect you feel about yourself.

#5 You have to be able to communicate

You have to be able to let each other know what you like and don’t like.

We are not mind readers. We can’t just know what the other person wants to do.

You have to check in with each other to make sure you’re both enjoying it and want to keep going. Good sex involves talking about stuff like safe sex, saying what turns you on (and what turns you off!) and what you do and don’t want to do.

#6 Sex involves trust

You have to be able to trust each other, so that no one is pressured or forced into doing something that they’re not comfortable with.

Sex can be pretty intimate. Saying what turns us on could be risky…

What if the other person thinks it’s weird?

What if they laugh at me or make me feel embarrassed about my body?
Will they respect my privacy or will they gossip or spread rumours afterwards?

If someone trusts and respects you, they’ll accept what you say and you’ll feel ok about being vulnerable.

Saying that stuff out loud is difficult for most people! But it’s easier (and less awkward) with someone you trust.

#7 Consent is a really big deal

Under the law, sex should only happen if both people ‘consent’ – which means that they both freely agree to it, without any pressure or force.
Sometimes you both want different things from during sex – or maybe you want sex but your partner doesn’t. You don’t have the right to pressure for sex or manipulate someone into sex – that’s not love or respect.

Forcing someone to have sex is a crime. If you pressure or force someone into sex, you could take away someone’s trust, sense of safety, self-esteem and their ability to enjoy sex in the future – that’s a lot of damage.
So don’t just assume someone wants to have sex – make sure that they’re consenting to it and really want to do it! Check out our talking about sex topic page.

#8 Unexpected things might come up

Sex can be an intense and personal experience, and unpredictable or uncomfortable feelings can come up – stuff like crying, feeling very anxious or numb. See am I ready for sex?

That’s why it’s a big deal….

Because of all this, we think that deciding to have sex IS a big deal. Being able to trust each other and communicate is important.

Also check the related topics:  

Sex Sex and consent Sex & Sexual Health

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