We're ready, but are we REALLY ready?

Hello, I just turned 16 this summer, and my girlfriend and I have been talking about having sex recently. We just decided that we're ready a couple days ago. But I was just wondering, is there anything I should do, outside of the sex itself? Things like medical exams?
Sarah replies:

As you and your partner consider sexual activity, it is great that you're seeking out information and resources to help prepare you. It also sounds like you have been talking about this together, which means that you've already crossed a big hurdle that a lot of people get stuck on.

So in order to be as safe (both physically and emotionally) as possible, you and your partner should continue the open communication that you've clearly begun. You ask what you can do to help prepare, but really there are important things that both partners need to do. Even if you are both "virgins" (however you define that term), it is still important to actively take care of your sexual health. So really, both of you should seek out sexual health care and go ahead and have a full STI screening. In addition, if you have not already discussed the method(s) of contraception and protection that you will be using, this would be the time to start having those discussions. You'll want to make sure that both of you know how to correctly use whatever method(s) you are going to use. Further, if you plan to use a hormonal method (either as a primary form of BC or as a backup to something like condoms), your partner will want to start that ahead of time since you generally have to wait a full cycle before relying on it to protect her. It would also probably be wise to take the time to talk about what you and your partner will do in the case of pregnancy or an STI. Talking about all of those things ahead of time can take some of the stress out later. In addition to the overall physical concerns, it would also be sage to talk about how sex may affect your relationship (both as a couple and individually). We've got several great articles on the site that go into greater detail about all of these things. It might even be a good idea to read them with your girlfriend so that you are both on the same page!

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