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About sex

Sex should be fun and it should feel good so you should only have sex when you feel ready. People have sex for lots of different reason, to show love and affection or to make babies. There are different types of sex, vaginal, oral and anal.

There are many ways people have sex. Different people like different things. Sex should be fun and it should feel good. Certain parts of our bodies are more sensitive than others. It is important to talk with your partner about what you like and don't like.

What's the right age to have sex?

The age of consent in Aotearoa New Zealand is 16 years. There is no ‘right’ age to have sex.

The age someone chooses to have sex is different for everyone. It needs to be when it feels right for that person. This can depend on their values, religion, if they're in a relationship or not, to lots of other factors.

As we get older we develop our own attitudes and values that help us to make decisions. What's important is that people can choose to have sex when they feel ready.

The average age people in New Zealand have sex is around 17 but many people wait until they're older. If you're not sure about having sex, the best advice is to wait.

Why do people have sex?

People have sex for lots of different reasons, such as to show love and affection or to make babies. Pleasure is a big reason - sex should feel good and be enjoyable.

How do I choose when I am ready to have sex?

When you choose to have sex, it is important that both you and your partner are ready for it and you both agree to any sexual activity, every time you are sexual.  It is about enjoying it and feeling comfortable with what is happening. You can change your mind at any time. You don't have to do anything that you don't feel comfortable doing.

Having sex will not necessarily:

  • make you more mature 
  • give you better status with your friends
  • make your relationship stronger or closer
  • give you an orgasm or immense pleasure - or be terrible either
  • look like it did on TV or at the movies.

You're probably ready to have sex if you can answer yes to most or all of these statements. If you're not sure, then you're probably not ready.

  • You feel you could say ‘no’ and that would be okay.
  • You have made a special connection with someone and you both feel it.
  • You know it’s right and you're ready.
  • You may have anxieties about it, but not any fear.
  • Nobody is forcing you, pressuring you or coercing you.
  • You are confident you won't regret it.
  • You've agreed you both care for each other and want to take this extra step.
  • You've been going out for months and have done everything but.
  • You don't want to have sex to keep your partner or just to make you popular.
  • You and your partner are able to talk about contraception and using condoms.
  • You both want it for yourself - not just because the other person does or to please them.

What is vaginal sex?

Vaginal sex is when the penis is put into the vagina. It is also called sexual intercourse.

You can get pregnant from vaginal sex, including the first time. This means it is really important to use contraception consistently and correctly.

You can get a sexually transmissible infection (STI) from vaginal sex. Always use a condom if you're having vaginal sex and put on before the penis comes near the vagina. As soon as the penis is erect it will have drops of pre-ejaculate on it. This pre-ejaculate will contain sperm.

What is oral sex?

Oral sex is when you use your mouth to stimulate your partner's genitals. There are different words that people sometimes use when they're talking about oral sex:

  • blow job or fellatio. This describes the sucking and licking of a penis
  • cunnilingus. This is the sucking and licking of a woman's vulva.

Can you get an STI from oral sex?

Yes. Using a condom or oral dam will protect against STIs.

What is anal sex?

Anal sex is when a penis or another object such as a finger or sex toy is inserted into the anus. Anal tissue is very sensitive and touch can be pleasurable for some people.

Like vaginal and oral sex, you can get an STI from anal sex. You should always use a condom and lube. The anus doesn't have a natural lubricant and can damage easily. Never force anything into the anus.

What is masturbation?

Masturbation or wanking is when you stimulate the genitals with your hand or other objects such as a pillow or vibrator. It is a pleasurable way to learn about your body and what you like or don't like.

Masturbation is a normal, healthy activity. It can be done either alone or with a partner. It should be done in a private place such as a bedroom. It can help reduce spontaneous erections in adolescent males and it won't affect your fertility.

Rumours that masturbating will make you run out of sperm are just that - rumours.

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.

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