Almost half of all women (42%) wish they’d lost their virginity in different circumstances, according to the results of the British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, published earlier this year. A fifth of men also regret their first time.

Which doesn’t automatically mean they wish they’d lost it later. A quick Google search shows that some women who waited until their wedding night rue their decision as much as those who lost it on a beach with a Spanish waiter. It’s all about what’s right for you, as an individual, and as long as you have safe sex, all is not lost.

Maybe we should all put less emphasis on our first time. It’s rarely a perfect experience and the elevation of ‘virginity’ into some kind of ‘valued status’ (generally for women) is surely an outmoded concept.

Our first experience of sex needn’t define us, any more than anything else we do when we’re 16 (the average age we ‘lose our V-plates’ in the UK). The first time can be intimidating, awkward, uncomfortable, emotionally draining or hugely underwhelming. It might feel like a big deal or a bit of an anticlimax. Women may bleed, they may not. Some people wish they hadn’t been drunk; others wish they had been! It doesn’t make you an adult, it just means you’ve had sex.

For some, it really is amazing, a huge relief not to be a ‘virgin’, the culmination of their desires. We are all different. For most, though, sex gets better.

If you’re reading this deciding whether or not to have sex for the first time, ask yourself whether YOU want to?  For yourself; not to please your partner or impress friends. For the optimum experience, you don’t require Champagne or silk sheets, you need to know and respect yourself; know and trust your partner. You should be in a safe environment, and definitely have safe sex.

If you agree with one or more of the following statements, you are considered not to have been ‘competent’ or ready   when you lost your virginity:

  • One of us was more willing than the other.
  • I wish I had waited longer.
  • The main reason was peer pressure or because I was drunk or had taken drugs.
  • I did not use reliable contraception.

So imagine how you might answer, and don’t bow to pressure. British National Survey data links lack of ‘competence’ to subsequent unplanned pregnancies, STIs and coercion into sex, no matter the age at which the person lost their virginity.

But if you’ve ‘done it’ and, with hindsight, it didn’t feel right, and the earth didn’t move for you….don’t fret, you’re not alone! The first time doesn’t have to set the pattern for your sex-life.

Look after your body, protect your heart and place sex in proportion to other important aspects of life.

You can find loads of information on safe sex and relationship advice here or if you have a question you would like us to answer, you can drop our sexual health expert a line at