Sex and consent

It's normal to have lots of questions about sex, consent, or doing sexual things. However you’re feeling, we’ve got advice to help.

Talking about sex

It can sometimes feel awkward talking about sex. You might have been told that it’s something embarrassing, or that you shouldn’t talk about sex. But it’s natural to have questions, and talking to someone you trust can really help.

You might be questioning:

  • whether you want to have sex, or if you feel ready
  • what contraception you can use and how to access it
  • how to cope if someone wants to do something and you don’t
  • what masturbation is and if it’s okay

Whatever’s on your mind, you can talk to us. We’ve got lots of advice, or you can speak to a Childline counsellor about anything.

5 facts about consent:

  • Consent is more than just saying yes or no
  • Wanting to do something once doesn’t mean you have to in the future
  • Consent applies to anything sexual, not just sexual intercourse
  • Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you have to do what your partner wants
  • You can change your mind about what’s happening any time

Knowing if you’re ready

The only person who can decide if you’re ready to do something sexual is you.

If you're thinking about having sex or doing something sexual, you should ask yourself:

  • do I feel comfortable doing something sexual with another person?
  • can I talk to my partner about sex or sexual things?
  • will my partner support me if I don’t do something?
  • would I want to be sexually active if other people weren’t pressuring me?
  • do I have contraception and know about safe sex?
  • do I feel confident about what to do if I change my mind?

If you’ve said no or you’re not sure about any of these questions, you might not be ready.

There are lots of reasons you might feel pressured to do something. You might be worried about being left out, or not seen as mature. Or you might about how your partner will react.

If you’re feeling pressured, it can help to talk to an adult you trust or to Childline.

Consent explained Ft. Jack Howard

'The Sex Talk' Part 1: Sex & Relationships

'The Sex Talk' Part 2: Sex & Contraception

Preparing to have sex

Sex can feel different depending on who you're with, your sexuality and what you’re expecting. Lots of people have an emotional connection with the person they're with as well as a physical attraction.

Whether it's your first time having sex or you've had it before, it's important to feel comfortable before you do anything.

Try our tips to feel more comfortable:


Masturbation is when you touch your body and your genitals because it feels good or pleasurable. People of any gender can masturbate and it's completely natural.

Whether you masturbate is your choice. People usually masturbate when they’re on their own, but sometimes they’ll do it with their partner. It’s not okay to masturbate in public.

If you’re worried about masturbation, it can help to remember:

  • Whether you do it is your choice
  • Some people masturbate lots, and some don’t want to at all. There’s no right or wrong amount.
  • There’s no ‘right’ way to masturbate
  • It can take time to work out what feels good for you, but that’s okay.
  • People masturbate at different ages
  • There’s no set age that people have to start. Choosing to masturbate is a choice that only you can make.

If you want to know more – check out the information on our facts about puberty page.