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Sexual Activity

The age of consent for both heterosexual and homosexual intercourse in England and Wales is 16-years-old.

This means it is illegal to participate in penetrative sex, oral sex or mutual masturbation under the age of 16.

The law isn't there to make life difficult. It's there to protect people. Everyone is ready for sex at different ages. But the law has to generalise so as to protect those who are most vulnerable from exploitation.

  • Sexual intercourse occurs when a man’s penis enters a woman’s vagina. It is how the human race reproduces
  • Sexual activity is any activity associated with sexual intercourse
  • During sexual activity, the man and/or the women may have an orgasm. This is an intense pleasurable feeling
  • During an orgasm, a man may ejaculate and release semen from the tip of his penis. See Male Genitalia section for more information
  • Sperm released through the penis may enter the vagina unless barrier contraception like a condom is used. See Contraception section for more information
  • If they are not faced with a barrier, the sperm will then swim through the cervix, into the womb and into the fallopian tubes. If there is an egg in the tube, the sperm will try to fertilise it. If they succeed, the woman will become pregnant. See Pregnancy section for more information
  • The best way to avoid unwanted pregnancies is not to have sex. Couples who choose to have sex can use contraception, which may also prevent sexually transmitted diseases, but they need to remember that no method is 100% successful, at either of these tasks
  • Other than the legal age of consent (16), there is no ‘right age’ to have sex for the first time. Many people wait until they feel ready and have a steady partner. Whatever age you feel is right, it is important to remember that sex can mean pregnancy and you need to be ready for that
  • The decision of when to have sex is important and you should not feel pressurised into doing anything
  • Remember that when your friends tell you they have had sex, they might not be telling the truth
  • It is your body, so it is your decision. Make sure you are ready, have someone you can trust to share it with and the right protection before you go any further
  • Remember it is illegal to have sex under the age of 16

Other sexual activities

  • Oral sex is when one person uses their mouth and tongue to stimulate another person’s genitals
  • Masturbation is when you touch your own genitals or another person’s genitals to create pleasure
  • Penetrative anal sex occurs when a male’s erect penis, a finger or an object is inserted into the anus of another person

If you are worried about sex, contraception or pregnancy, talk to someone you can trust or visit your GP or family planning clinic. They are there to listen and give advice.

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