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To Sam

Condoms and the legal age of consent

Hi Sam, Hope this message finds you well. I have a quick query about the age of consent and legal age for buying condoms that I hope you can clarify for me. I read somewhere that to buy condoms you must be at least 13 years of age (I am 14). However, I believe that you must be 16 to engage in sexual activity. Is this true or am I able to have sex now at the age of 14. I'm only wondering this as I'm able to buy condoms legally as far as I'm aware. I look forward to your reply. ​

Ask Sam


Hi there,

I get asked a lot about how old you have to be to have sex or to get contraception. There’s a lot to think about when deciding the right time for you to have sex . The law is one thing, but it's also really important to think about whether you’re ready and whether you can do it safely.

There's no minimum age to buy condoms. You can be any age, gender or sexuality and are entitled to free contraception until you are 25 years old.

You can get free condoms from your GP, a sexual health (GUM) clinic, a young person's clinic like Brook or under some other schemes that might run locally where you live (such as the C-Card). If you don't want to visit those places, you can buy condoms at most supermarkets and pharmacies, and you don't have to be a specific age for this either.

The law does say that you need to be 16 before you are considered old enough to decide to have sex. This doesn't mean you would get arrested if you chose to have sex under 16. This law exists to stop young people being exploited by adults and is there to protect you, not punish you.

That said, it's really important to think about why the law sets the age at 16. This is an age when most people might be able to make a decision like this - but it doesn't mean you have to feel ready to do it; you can wait until whatever time feels right for you . Being old enough to decide and being ready to make the decision are two different things.

When thinking about having sex for the first time you need to think about who you are having sex with, what your relationship with them is like now - and what it will be like after.

You're doing the right thing by thinking about contraception, but it's also important to know how to use it properly and the risks of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. There's a lot to think about to make sure you’re safe.

You might find it useful  to talk this through with a Childline counsellor - they are there for you to talk to anonymously and without judgement. You can also talk to other young people about their experiences on the Childline message boards.

I hope this information has helped.

Take care.


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