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Supporting young people's sexual health


It is natural to have questions about sex, consent, or doing sexual things.


What is sex?

Sex can mean lots of different things. Sex can be oral, vaginal or anal intercourse.

Having these kinds of sex is not the only way people are intimate or sexual with each other. Other kinds of intimate or sexual activity are:

  • hugging
  • kissing
  • sexual touching

It is important that you are only involved in sexual activity that you are ready for and feel comfortable with. It is always your choice what you do with your body. Find out more about consent here.

Are you ready for sex?

If you are getting closer to someone or are in a relationship, you might be thinking about having sex.

You might be spending a lot of time with them and enjoying kissing or touching each other.

If you are having sexual feelings towards someone, you may be feeling nervous, excited, or unsure.


Before you decide to have sex, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I feel happy and relaxed when we are together?
  • Do I feel I can change my mind, say ‘no’, or stop at any time?
  • Do we respect each other?
  • Do they like me for who I am?
  • Do we have strong feelings for each other?
  • Can we trust each other?
  • Can we talk to each other about worries and concerns?
  • Will we respect each other by not telling all our friends?
  • Have we planned how to keep safe using condoms and/or contraception?


If your answer is no to any of these questions, you might want to ask yourself if now is the right time.

The only way to know how you both feel is to talk about it openly and honestly, whether it is your first date, first kiss, or first time.

Do not let pressure from friends, your partner or social media make you do certain types of sexual activity.

It might seem like everybody is having sex, but 4 out of 5 teenagers wait until they are over 16. The ‘age of consent’ in Scotland is 16. 

If you have questions or worries, speak to a trusted adult in your life or talk to a trusted health worker at the young people’s drop-in service at Healthy Respect+ or find a service near you. Young people aged 13 and older have the right to free, confidential support and advice from sexual health services.


Sex should feel good

If you choose to have sex it should be a healthy and enjoyable part of your life, not something you regret.

Your first time may be wonderful, but do not worry if it is not. It is natural to feel nervous. It can be helpful to chat things through with a trusted adult at a sexual health service.

Remember, if you do decide to have sex, it is ok to change your mind at anytime and tell your partner to stop.

Take a look at this video called ‘What happens if things change?’. It is from the Awkward Moments campaign which is about getting the conversation started about what consent feels and looks like.

When is it not consent?

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