Ready or Not & the Law

Most people do not have sex until after the age of consent (16). Many people leave it for longer. How can you know if you are ready to have sex?
Young couple hugging

Knowing the facts about contraception and sexual health is important. You should find them out before you have sex.

Knowing if you are ready can take time. You should not feel pressured, or like you are being left behind. It's OK to take your time and be sure!

Are you ready?

Before you have sex you need to know that you are ready. It is sometimes hard to be sure but answering these questions can help. 

  • Could you say no if you wanted to?
  • Can you have fun together without anything sexual involved?
  • Do you want it for yourself, not to please the other person or fit in with what friends or other people think you should do?
  • Have you discussed condoms and contraception, and talked about what might happen if you become pregnant or get a Sexually Transmitted Infection?
  • Have you agreed what happens next, and whether or not to tell your friends afterwards.

Even if you've answered yes to all of these statements, you still might not be ready for sex. Only you can know for sure.

Instant expert: Sometimes, if we don’t find good, healthy ways to feel satisfied, we might use unhelpful or harmful ways instead. These may help us feel better in the moment, but over time they can hurt other people and ourselves. Find out more about help available, including the Good Lives Plan.

What's legal when?

The age of consent in England is 16. The age is the same for everyone, whether you’re male, female, transgender, bi, straight, or gay.

Crucial: If you're under 16, it's illegal to have sex, but you can still get confidential advice about contraception, emergency contraception and sexual health. You can talk to your school health nurse or visit the sexual health clinic.

Consent: what does it look like?

If you want to do anything sexual with your partner, the responsibility lies with you to check for consent, at every stage. It's not up to your partner to say ‘no’.

Crucial: Sex without consent is rape. If you are persuaded or pressured into sex, this is rape. If you have said yes to sex once you can always say no to sex another time. Find out more from Brook.

Find out more

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