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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

When you're thinking about having sex

Ina whai whakaaro ana koe ki te aitanga

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 is right for you may not be right for your friend and may not even be right for your partner.

You and your partner need to be comfortable about your sexual activity. You both need to get and give consent before sex. Either of you can still change their mind at any stage. The video in the link below 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 old 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 aren't being forced to do something you do not want to do, do not feel afraid to visit your general practice team or a sexual health clinic for advice. The person who sees you will talk to you about your decision, make sure it's right for you and talk to you about ways to have safe sex.

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

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On the next page: Contraception for young people

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed August 2022.


See also:

Cervical screening

Penis health


Sexually transmitted infections

Testicles and scrotum

Vulval and vaginal care

Page reference: 224903

Review key: HISIT-53216