If you're ready to start having sex, you should make sure you know the basics.

Nobody has the right to make you do more than you want to

What is it?

There are dozens of names for it (banging, bonking, fornicating, f**king, getting laid, riding, screwing, shagging...) but sexual intercourse is penetrative sex. Any sort of sexual activity involving insertion: oral, anal or vaginal.

Here's how vaginal sex works between a man and a woman.

  • The man needs to have an erect penis and the woman's vagina should have started releasing fluid to make it easier for the penis to enter - this is often stimulated through foreplay.
  • The man pushes his penis into the woman's vagina (often with a helping hand to make sure it goes in right) and the couple move together however feels best for them.
  • The man or the woman may have an orgasm (come) during sex. Once the man has come, his penis will lose its erection and become limp again. The woman may need to have her clitoris rubbed or stimulateed to have an orgasm.

The time before intercourse is foreplay, when a couple kiss and touch each other to get excited and lubricated enough for sex. Foreplay is an important and really pleasurable part of sex. Some women find it easier to have an orgasm during foreplay, especially if her partner rubs or licks her clitoris.

So that's the biology. But there's lots more to sex than just the mechanics.

How we feel about it - during and afterwards - that's harder to describe.

Remember - nobody has the right to make you do more than you want to when it comes to sexual activity. It may take weeks, months or years for two people to both feel ready for sex, and it's important you BOTH feel ready, no matter how many partners you've had before. Have a look at our Sex - Am I Ready? factfile.

BBC Advice factfiles are here to help young people with a broad range of issues. They're based on advice from medical professionals, government bodies, charities and other relevant groups. Follow the links for more advice from these organisations.