Use these helpful checklists below to figure out if sex is what you want.
Remember, the most important person in your sex life is you.
Am I ready to have sex?
When you’re figuring out if you’re ready for sex, you want to ask yourself the
most basic questions possible, like:
- Why do I want to do this?
- Who do I want to do this for?
- What do I expect from sex?
- What does my partner expect from sex?
There’s no guarantee that sex will:
- Create a closer relationship with your partner or make it last longer
- Give you an orgasm or mind-blowing pleasure
- Feel great the first time or feel awful the first time
- Make you cooler to your friends
- Make you more mature or grownup or a “real” man or woman
How do I know if I'm ready?
(From the Scarleteen Sex Readiness Checklist)
Here are some of the items you would want to “check” off your list:
- I’ve had a recent medical checkup where I was tested for infections. My
partner has had the same.
- I understand my own anatomy and my partner’s anatomy and the basics of
intercourse, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and human reproduction.
- I can tell when I am sexually aroused and I know when I’m not. I know what
I need to get turned on and when I just can’t feel turned on.
- I can relax during sexual activity without feeling worried, tense, or
- I can handle a small amount of physical pain.
- I can set limits (say no when I want to) and can trust my partner to respect my
limits at all times.
- I can insist on using a condom even if my partner doesn’t want to.
- I can tell what I want for myself, and can tell the difference between what I
want and what my partner, friends, or family want.
- I can trust my partner and they can trust me.
- I can tell my partner easily what I want, and when I do or don’t like
something. My partner can tell me the same things and I’ll be a good
- I care about my partner’s health, emotions, and well-being, and show it by
how I act.
- If I do choose to have sex with my partner, I can change my mind at any time, and
I can choose to stop having sex at any time.
- I don’t have any religious, cultural, or family beliefs that say it’s
wrong for me to have sex right now. If I do, and I decide to have sex, I’m
prepared for the possible consequences and my own feelings.
- I can take full responsibility for my own emotions, expectations, and
- I can handle being disappointed, confused, or upset.
- I have a member of my family I can talk to about sex, and/or friends I can go to
for emotional support.
- I can separate sex from love, and do not want to use sex to manipulate my
- I understand that having sex could change my relationship for better or
- I feel I can emotionally handle a possible pregnancy or infection, or rejection
from my partner.
Choosing to have sex
If you feel you’re ready for sex, it’s important to make sure you have
all the information you need. Take a look at the other sections of this website and the
other sites in the Resources section! These will give you
the information you’ll need to make the experience as enjoyable, safe,
pleasurable, and comfortable as possible. And don’t forget to go over these
things with your partner!
For starters, here are some of the basics you might need:
- Several good quality condoms gloves, and/or dental dams, and both you and your
partner know how to use them correctly. Also, you’ve checked the expiration
date to make sure they’re still effective.
- A large bottle of latex-safe, water-soluble lube. No oil-based lubes because
they’ll destroy condoms.
- If there’s a chance you or your partner could get pregnant, a second kind
of birth control for use along with condoms.
- A list of local clinics and their phone numbers. See our Testing section or the
Clinic and Condom Finder for these.
- Be prepared that you might need a “sex budget” for things like birth control and safer-sex items. You may be able to get these things for free from your doctor’s office or clinic, but not always.
Age of consent
It’s important to know about the laws in Canada that state how old you and
your partner have to be before you can have sex. For most kinds of sexual activity, if
- 16 or older, you can choose to have sex with anyone (as long as they are of the legal age to have sex with you and are not an authority figure);
- 14 or 15, you can choose to have sex with someone who is no more than five years older than you; and
- 12 or 13, you can choose to have sex with someone who is no more than two years older than you.
The Criminal Code of Canada states that persons under the age of 18 cannot engage in anal intercourse except if they are legally married. As long as the Criminal Code remains unchanged and you’re over the age of 18, you could be charged for having anal sex with someone younger than 18.
This doesn’t mean that you have to have sex at a certain age. Age doesn’t determine whether you’re ready for sex – you do.
Choosing NOT to have sex
There are lots of good reasons to not have sex. You can choose to be abstinent
forever, for a few years, or for a few weeks. You might choose abstinence because:
- You don’t want to risk getting pregnant (or getting someone pregnant). No birth control is 100% effective.
- It protects you from most STIs.
- You can’t get birth control and safer sex items.
- Your religion or beliefs don’t allow pre-marital sex.
- You aren’t ready for a sexual partner.
- You aren’t interested in sex right now (maybe there are more important things going on, you’re not sure about it, or are feeling “sick of sex”).
- You’re not interested in sex at all. Your feelings may change over time and if you’re not interested in sex, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you.
Things you can do instead of having sex
You don’t need to have sexual intercourse to be intimate or feel close to your partner. If you don’t feel you’re ready to have sex, there are many other things you can do instead; depending on your own comfort level, of course.
Here are some of the things you can do instead of having sex:
- Hold hands;
- Phone sex, “sexting” or cyber sex; or
There are also things you can do that can bring you closer to your partner, without actually getting close. These might include:
- Talking in person, on the phone, or online;
- Watching movies;
- Going for coffee;
- Going for a walk;
- Exercising together;
- Playing pool;
- Going bowling; or
- Hanging out in a group of friends.