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HealthInfo Canterbury

When you're thinking about having sex

young loversSex is fun and it should feel good. To enjoy sex, you should only have sex when you and your partner are ready. The legal age of consent in New Zealand is 16 years old, but there is no "right" age to start having sex. What's right for you may not be right for your friend and may even not be right for your partner.

You and your partner need to be comfortable about your sexual activity. You need to get and give consent before sex. You or your partner can still change their mind at any stage. This video explains consent in more detail.

Part of enjoying a healthy sex life is looking after your sexual health. Sexual health covers taking care of your sexual body parts, practising safe sex, knowing how to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections, choice of contraception, and even feelings about sex, your sexuality and gender identity.

Sex and confidentiality

In Aotearoa New Zealand, you must be over 16 years of age to legally consent to sexual activity. The law is designed to protect young people from being taken advantage of.

If you're under 16 and you've decided to have sex, you're happy about it and you're not being forced to do something you don't want to do, don't feel afraid to visit your GP or a sexual health clinic for advice. The person who sees you will talk to you about your decision, make sure that it's right for you and then talk to you about ways to have safe sex.

However, if they're worried that you don't understand the decision you're making or that someone is pushing you into sex, they will talk to you about these concerns. They may have to tell other people, to keep you safe.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Contraception for youth & teens

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed January 2021.

See also:

Cervical screening & cervical smears

Penis health

Relationships in youth & teens

Sexually transmitted infections

Testicles and scrotum

Vulval and vaginal care

Page reference: 224903

Review key: HISIT-53216