Whether you’ve got a long-term boyfriend, you’re single and off on a Gap Year, or you’re seeing someone on and off at college or uni, you shouldn’t have sex or put it off for anything other than your own reasons.

You couldn’t be blamed for feeling like you have a lot to live up to, though. Sex is everywhere: in the high street, in magazines and in explicit lyrics in songs. A staggering 75% of music videos have sexual imagery that could well be distorting your perception of sex and relationships. Remember that what you expect of sex for the first time could have a huge impact on how you cope with it emotionally.

But what if you’re confident about all of that but you’ve got fears about your body or the mechanics of sex?

Dr Radha Modgil, GP and presenter on The Sex Education Show, which broadcasts on Channel 4 on April 18th, considers some of the questions you might want to ask yourself before jumping in to the sack.

*How would you feel if your relationship broke down soon after losing your virginity to that person?
*Do you trust this person with both your emotional and physical safety?
*Would your partner be likely to tell their friends about your experience together?
*Do you feel under any pressure at all from your partner?

She goes on to comment that probably the only good reason to go ahead and lose your virginity is ‘because you’re in a long-term relationship, you feel committed, and you both need to take the relationship further. Many young people have sex for the first time because they want to feel more mature and to break away from their parents.’ If this is you, remember that part of feeling mature involves being mature about contraception and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Being grown-up should mean you’re also properly clued-up.

It’s not uncommon for young people to feel physically ready for sex long before they’re emotionally mature enough. But how do you know if you’re ready in both senses? Dr Radha says: “Emotional maturity is vital. If you aren’t happy or prepared emotionally for this big step in to sex and intimate contact, then the fallout afterwards can be devastating. You never know if you will cope but if you trust your partner, if your relationship is healthy, physically and emotionally, and there is respect between both of you, and if you don’t feel any pressure but instead feel you want to do this for yourself, then things are more likely to go right. As a GP, I would encourage a young person thinking about losing their virginity to tell someone close who they trust, and I would want to know that their self-esteem and confidence levels were good, as well as being confident about safe sex.”

But what if you’re confident about all of that but you’ve got fears about your body or the mechanics of sex? Some of the most common problems people write in to agony aunts about include these five:

1. Inverted nipples: remember everyone is different and plenty of women do not get aroused or erect nipples during kissing or sex. If inverted nipples is a new thing, you should see your GP.
2. Fear of pain or bleeding: Most women do not get any bleeding at all during their first intercourse. If you do, it might just be a tiny spot. It might feel strange the first time but it shouldn’t be painful. It’s just a new sensation!
3. Making a mess of putting a condom on! Practise, practise, practise! Get some condoms and try putting them on a banana, or your partner. Having fun and giggling about something like this is important as it will strengthen your bond and make it easier when you do have sex.
4. What if he doesn’t have an orgasm? Sex is a two-way thing and unlike sex on TV and in films, not everyone orgasms at all, and not everyone orgasms every time they have sex. It’s no one’s fault and if there’s any blame, you should look carefully at your relationship.
5. Afraid of catching STIs through oral foreplay: You can catch STIs through orgal sex, eg Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea. You should still use a condom during oral sex and make sure you’ve both had a recent STI test.

Don’t be mistaken in thinking that the new series of The Sex Education Show is meant for teens. It concentrates on the sexualisation of both teens and adults, and how society puts pressure on young people to be sexual, often too early. When you’re finding out about your sexuality for the first time, away from home or without being able to talk to someone close, it’s vital to think about when the time is right for you.

Female First Amy Grace