Love, Sex & Relationships

You might be wondering how you’ll know when it’s time to take it to the next level. Here’s a three-step action plan for making smart choices about sex. 

Think about it. 

Sex should only happen within the context of a caring, loving relationship. Make sure you’re, ahem, doing it for the right reasons and remember there's nothing wrong with deciding to wait. 

Bad reasons to have sex: 

  • Because your partner is pressuring you 
  • Because you’ve been together a long time 
  • Because you think sex will make your partner fall in love with you 

Believe it or not, not everyone's doing it and waiting is always an option. Ask yourself, are you really ready? 

Talk about it. 

You’ll want to talk to your partner before you have sex to make sure you’re on the same page. Talk over whether sex is something you both feel ready for, and discuss what you’ll use for birth control. Remember that it’s never OK for anyone to pressure you for sex, ever. 

You might also want to talk to your parents so they can set up a doctor’s appointment for you to get birth control. Here are a few tips to make that conversation less awkward.

Make a plan. 

Sometimes teens have sex because “it just happens,” not because it’s a decision they’ve made. And because they hadn’t planned to have sex, they often wind up having unprotected sex, sometimes resulting in STIs or unplanned pregnancy. 

Planning out what you’ll do in advance is smart— just because you have a condom in your wallet, or go on the pill, it doesn’t mean that you have to have sex. It’s a just-in-case that will protect you and your partner if you do decide to have sex. You can also make a plan not to have sex…not right now, anyway. 

Keep in mind: 

Not everyone's doing it

Trust us, you won't be the only one deciding to wait. For a lot of teens it's the right decision for them. 

Birth control is worth the time and effort. 

Abstinence is the only foolproof way to prevent pregnancy, but contraception offers excellent protection against pregnancy and STIs. Some birth control methods offer up to 99% effectiveness. Here’s how to find one that’s right for you. 

Know what birth control method you want to use, but not sure how to get it? Find a health center near you.

Contraception must be used every time you have sex in order to be effective. 

But even if you have had unprotected sex in the past, you can still require ask that your partner to use protection today. It’s never too late to start protecting yourself. 

You can’t tell if someone has an STI by looking at them. 

Using a condom and birth control means you're protecting yourself from both STIs and unplanned pregnancy. 

Get more details about making a plan.