Is There A Perfect Age To Lose Your Virginity?
A recent survey suggests many people are unhappy with the age they were when they first did the deed.
How old were you when you first had sex? Have you even had it yet? Were you too young? Too old? Too freaked out? Too tired?
A new survey of British sexual behaviour suggests that having sex too soon is the biggest regret of young people losing their virginity.
More than a third of women and a quarter of men in their teens and early 20s admitted it had not been "the right time" when they first had sex.
And when was that? Most surveyed had had sex by the time they were 18 -- half had done it by the time they were turning 17. Nearly a third had sex before turning 16.
A worldwide study in 2017 by condom brand Durex -- Durex’s Face of Global Sex -- showed when we lose our virginity varies around the world.
Iceland ranked the youngest with the median age of 15.6, while Malaysia had the oldest age of people losing their virginity at 23. Singapore, China and India have an average age of 22.
Scandinavian countries including Sweden, Denmark and Norway found its citizens having their first sexual experience at 16.
The Australian Study Of Health And Relationships says that in their research that 17 is the age when most Aussies first did the deed.
But when is the right time? Is there such a thing? According to the British report, nearly 40 percent of young women and 26 percent of young men did not feel that their first sexual experience had happened "at the right time".
When asked in more depth, most said they wished they had waited longer to lose their virginity.
According to Dr Tammy Nelson, consulting sex and relationship therapist for Ashley Madison, and author of The New Monogamy: Redefining Your Relationship After Infidelity, it makes a lot of sense.
"Many people’s first experience of sex is not what they would want, ideally, for their first experience of a sexual relationship," she told 10 daily. "The experience of 'sexual competency' is quite low at younger ages, and therefore people feel inadequate and embarrassed during sex. They experience low levels of satisfaction and are unsure (or pretty clear) that they were unable to please their partner during the act.
"Therefore, it seems that many people wish they were more competent in their early sexual experiences when the combination of youth and inexperience led them to feelings of inadequacies and regret."
Competence in sex means the awareness of how and when to use contraception, the autonomy of the decision to have sex, and both partners being equally willing to have it at the time. It also means that one believes that sex is happening at the perceived right time and place for it to happen.
She continued, "I would imagine that the lack of awareness of how their own and their partner’s anatomy functions would also create a wide variation in their perceived ‘sexual competence.’"
Then there is religion. "Religion can also play a part in a young person’s self-views on the loss of their virginity," Dr Nelson said. "Even when they don’t subscribe to their parent’s religious beliefs, they will be influenced by their religious beliefs and may feel guilt or shame at losing their virginity before marriage."
Says Aussie GP and sex expert Dr Sally Cockburn, "in my opinion, there is no specific ‘right’ age to start having sex, but of course that comes with some warnings."
Laws differ from state to state in Australia about when a person is able to give consent to having sex. The legality may also depend on the age of the partner or whether there is sort of ‘power’ mismatch in the relationship (eg guardian or teacher). So having sex under that age can mean the older partner is at risk of being charged with a crime.
And, of course, pregnancy and STIs can be real consequences of having sex. "Both partners need to consider, and use, reliable protection. This is a decision that needs to happen well in advance of having sex," said Dr Cockburn.
A quick poll around the 10 daily office revealed, well, nothing really. No one said they thought they were too young, and one staffer even said she wished she hadn't waited so long.
So the answer seems to be ... there is no perfect age, just be safe.
Feature Image: Universal Pictures