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Deciding not to have sex

Not having sex is the only guaranteed way of not catching sexually transmitted infections and avoiding pregnancy.

Choosing to wait can also give couples a chance to get to know each other better before taking their relationship to another level.

Feeling under pressure to have sex?

Modern culture surrounds us with images of sex so it's easy to feel we should be sexually active, whether we want to be or not.

More pressure can come from partners or others around us who feel we should be having sex.

Don't let anyone pressure you in to sex. Anyone who puts pressure on you to have sex does not respect you and you have to ask if that is the sort of person you really want to have sex with anyway?

The truth is that we should only ever have sex when we feel absolutely ready for sex.

Never pressure someone to have sex. If your partner is not ready for sex, whatever the reason, you must respect their wishes and never put pressure on them to have sex until they are ready.

No sex – the benefits

Spending time being single and not having sex can give you the time and space to explore your own thoughts, feelings and desires. Being confident and sure about what you want will help you feel happy and secure, whether you stay single or not.

If you're in a new relationship, not having sex for a while will give you the time to get to know each other. This could mean better sex with fewer regrets when you do decide to try.

Even if you've been together for a while, choosing not to have sex can give both partners the time and space to develop the relationship, and themselves, in other ways.

Some people may choose not to have sex for cultural or religious reasons such as choosing not to have sex until they are married or until they move in together.

Ultimately, there's more to life and relationships than just sex and there's nothing 'wrong' with choosing not to have sex.

Couples not having sex – but who want to

Sometimes couples can't have sex because of time constraints, children or periods of stress or illness. In situations like this, it's important that you talk about what's happening and maintain good communication.

If your feelings for each other have changed radically, it could help to get some relationship counselling.

Sexual problems

Problems having sex is called ‘sexual dysfunction’. Some couples may stop having sex because of sexual dysfunction, this could be such as problems getting or keeping an erection, pain during sex, or lack of sexual desire.

Find out more about sexual problems.

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Guidance on accessing contraception during coronavirus pandemic.