Having sex for the first time? Here’s what to expect.

First time sexThe first time, a.k.a. losing it, being deflowered, breaking the seal, losing your innocence, popping the cherry — there are lots of names for it. But when you’ve decided to have sex for the first time, the names don’t matter. What matters is being ready and having some idea of what it’s all about.


When the big day (or more likely, night) arrives, no matter how you set it up — with candles, champagne, and sexy lingerie, or as just another night — it’s bound to be more exciting, and at least a little more nerve wracking, than your standard hook-up.

So do yourself a few favors. First, have protection ready. There’s enough to worry about without having to add concern about contracting an infection or dealing with a pregnancy. If you don’t have a supply of condoms, go get some. Frank Littlefield*, a senior at Boston University, remembers making a fast trip to the store on his first night. He was at a friend’s house for a holiday party. When he discovered both he and his (also virginal) partner were latex-less, he “ran to the drug store. I grabbed one of those 75-cent single packs, and sprinted back. She was waiting for me.”

Next, get in the mood. This is supposed to be fun, so relax and enjoy it. Turn on some sexy music, and then it’s time for — hey guys, are you paying attention? — foreplay, foreplay, foreplay. The more excited and worked up you both are, the easier and smoother the whole thing will be.

Getting In

Take it from the veterans: Penetration is rarely as easy as it looks in the movies. So you can probably expect a little, er, poking around before the ship docks in the port. And don’t be surprised if a little manhandling is required. Sharon LaRusso, a senior at UCLA who lost her virginity at age 17, recalls the pre-entry moment as silly, but fun. “There were a few mis-pokes around my thighs. Then he guided it in with his hands,” she remembers.

Prior to experiencing sex, most virgins have heard from a variety of sources that the first time hurts for a woman. According to most women — and some men — this was their biggest concern about the whole experience. The truth? First-time sex may be a tad wince-worthy, but you’re not passing a kidney stone. “It hurt a little, but nowhere near as much as I’d expected,” says Lindsay Kelly, a senior at the University of Delaware who lost it at age 19. Gretchen Lazlo, a sophomore at Colby College and a virgin till age 16, says, “It was a little uncomfortable at first, but I wouldn’t call it painful.”

According to these same women, the best way to make it as painless as possible can be summed up in two words: Go slow. John Tatum of Emory University remembers asking his partner, who was also a virgin, several times how she was doing and if it hurt. “I knew that if she didn’t like it the first time, she probably wouldn’t want to sleep with me again!” he says. “So I was gentle, and kept checking in with her to make sure everything was OK. Later, she told me she was so glad I did that.”

The Act

First time sexLet’s get one thing straight right off the bat: First time out, the big O is mainly the domain of the guys. No, it’s not fair, but that’s just the way it is. If you’re a female and you’re with someone who is very experienced, there’s a chance you might be sent into waves of orgasmic ecstasy, but don’t count on it. “I don’t know of anyone who [had an orgasm] the first time,” says Lindsay. Sharon agrees: “It was at least a year before I came while having sex.”

For guys, by most accounts, the first time is a quickie. Most guys I talked to estimated their first time lasted about 1-3 minutes. At best. “Put it this way: I could have beat Maurice Green,” says Dave Wayland of Princeton University. So coming quickly is nothing to be embarrassed about. If you’re with a more experienced girl, then “they know what to expect from you” says Frank. If you’re with another virgin, you really don’t have to worry. Hannah Kischler, a junior at Smith College, says her first time was “mercifully quick,” since the first time for her “was fun, but it wasn’t generally enjoyable from a physical point of view.”

Experimenting with different positions may not be the best thing your first time around — unless, of course you’re with someone who has more experience than you and who is comfortable taking you through the steps. Most men and women, however, find that the missionary position works just fine for that first test run.

Many novices worry about rhythm. Don’t. Rhythm is something that comes with practice, and from getting to know how your partner moves. “I definitely didn’t know what I was doing,” recalls Barry Glover, a senior at Drew University. “I didn’t really get the motions going. I never practiced on an apple pie or anything.” His recommendation? Slap on some tunes. Sexy tunes, that is. “It’s about slow, constant, steady rhythmical pressure. If you lack rhythm, like I did, try putting on music. It’s like dancing. Just move to the beat.”

Lindsay remembers the one thing that kept going through her mind. ‘I didn’t know what to do with my knees!” she laughs. It may seem trivial, but she, like many other men and women, remembers worrying about simple little things like their limbs. The best advice on this front — and overall — came from Jean Kirkpatrick, a recent graduate of Kenyon College. “There’s nothing you can do wrong. Okay, so you want to make sure you don’t hurt your partner. But outside of that, there’s absolutely nothing really right or really wrong you can do.”

Getting Out

Hey, you’ve done the deed. Congratulations. But don’t screw up now. Guys, when you pull out, grab the condom, hold on, and pull out slowly. Spillage is bad. You put that thing on for a reason, make sure you use it correctly. Don’t wait a long time to pull out, either. Instantaneous removal isn’t essential, but shrinkage can cause spillage, so watch out.


There are a few things you should know about after-sex. One is cleanup. Condoms are pretty neat and tidy, but have some Kleenex (or at least an old T-shirt) handy just in case.

Another is the smell. You may have heard people talk about the smell of sex, but you probably don’t know what it is till you’ve done it. Barry loved it then, and loves it now. He first smelled it after having sex for the first time at age 16. “Mmmm. I didn’t shower for two days!” he reminisces. Now, while we don’t necessarily recommend this particular course of action, a little reveling in the scent isn’t a bad thing.

Finally, while guys won’t be left with many physical reminders after their first time, women might notice a little bleeding. No big deal — it should hardly be enough to qualify as spotting, and should go away quickly. “I noticed a little blood in the shower afterward, but it was gone by the next morning,” says Gretchen. Women might also be a little sore or tender the day after, but that feeling should also go away soon.

So good luck, and remember: No one really knows what to do the first time around. But folks have been successfully bonking for millions of years. They all figured it out. And you will too. So relax, take it slow, and don’t worry about any sexual snafus. Just do what seems natural and comfortable. “There won’t be any swinging from the chandeliers at first,” says Sharon. “That’ll happen in time. You have to figure out what works with the person you’re with. And that’s true when you’re with any new person for the first time — it doesn’t matter if it’s your first lover, or your tenth.”

So, the rundown… the spark notes version to having sex for the first time and tips to make it even better

Talk it up. Not with your friends — although they might be able to give you some good advice. Talk to you partner before the big night. Talk about your experience, your concerns, your expectations. If you can talk about it before sex, it’ll be easier to talk about it during and after, too. And make sure to ask about your partner’s sexual history. Consider getting tested together to make sure you’re both clean.

Rubbers, gloves, latex, protection Call ’em what you will. Have condoms on hand. (Oh — in case you weren’t paying attention — use condoms.)

Size might matter. We’ve all heard theories on whether or not penis size matters. We don’t have any answers to the age-old question here, but we can tell you that penis size can make a difference if it’s your first time. If a guy is particularly large, entry and sex can be a bit more tedious for everyone involved. Just make sure you take it slow.

Live and learn. Having some “all but” (as in “all but sex”) experience helps. If you’ve previously been initiated into the joys of making out, feeling up, and giving and receiving oral sex, then sex itself is a whole lot less intimidating. You’re already comfortable with squirts, spurts, and other bodily functions.

Lube job. If you’re having trouble getting in, or if you’re experiencing pain after penetration, you may want to have some KY jelly or other non-oil-based lubricant on hand. If you don’t feel comfortable with lubricant, use a natural substitute — saliva can work wonders.Let there be light? Lights on or off, it’s entirely up to you. Sex is sex, light or no light. But it may help to know that many first timers recommend darkness. You’ll both probably be less self-conscious that way.

No crowded house. Make sure your door has a lock. Use it. The last thing you need is your roomie or anyone else detracting from your first bout in bed.

*All names have been changed to protect the no-longer innocent.