Preparing to have sex for the first time is honestly more intimidating than preparing for your college entrance exam. At least you know what to expect from the exams—sex is much more of a wildcard. It can be scary! It can be exciting! But rest assured, it's pretty much a nerve-wracking thrill ride for everyone. So at least take solace in the fact that you aren't alone. To help ease your pre-sex worries, here are 14 things I, and most all grown women, wish they'd known before they had sex for the first time. Solidarity, my friends.
1. It'll probably last five minutes, tops.
If this sexual encounter is going down with a dude, don't expect too much, time-wise. Unless he's super experienced or super disciplined or whatever, longevity isn't something that just exists for men from birth.
2. It's not going to be the most life-changing thing that ever happens to you.
Sex can be fun and great and is definitely better than a lot of other things in life, but the first time you have sex is likely not going to be the best sex you have in your whole life. It will probably slip away into the abyss of your memory—a funny memory you'll think back on from time to time, glad you've since learned how good sex can be when you know what you're doing.
3. Demand foreplay with the same fervor you demand fries instead of a salad at dinner.
Set the precedent early on: If your partner just goes for it without properly setting the stage first, correct them. Do it. You'll be so glad, and if they throw a fit, maybe just don't ever have sex with them at all.
4. No amount of planning is going to make this a perfect teen-movie experience, and that's fine.
I'm sorry, I know we all wish we could be that one sex scene in The Notebook, but we can't. There's a reason it took a crew of dozens to create that movie. Scenes like that just... don't happen IRL. But that's OK! Your first-time story will be cute in its own way. Let Allie and Noah keep their cliché.
5. You will probably freak out that you're pregnant and it will probably be for no reason.
Just because you had sex with a man doesn't mean you're suddenly pregnant—so long as you're careful and use a condom (and even a backup birth control method!). The best thing you can do is educate yourself on how babies are actually made and all the methods out there that keep them from being made before you want one to be made. It's very simple. Don't freak out!
6. You might not bleed and it might not hurt.
I know that every single girl since middle school has been telling scary tall tales about how ladies gush blood and are in dire pain after they have sex for the first time, but this doesn't (and shouldn't) happen. You might bleed a little if you have penetrative sex, and it might take place over the course of few days (like a baby period). Or you might bleed a lot! But if you're seriously bleeding (like, a lot of blood), or are in pain that doesn't go away or feels like more than "I'm now aware of my vagina" discomfort, you should call a doctor.
7. You can literally stop whenever you want.
Whether that means you go at it for three hours or three minutes, tell your partner when you're ready to call it quits. Sex isn't an "all or nothing" thing. Do what you want, and don't do what you don't want.
8. If you even for a second feel guilty about losing your ~virginity~, quit it.
It's normal to feel a whole range of feelings after you have sex for the first time, but I really hope guilt isn't one of them. There's nothing dirty or wrong about having consensual sex with someone you're into. A lot of the things you may have been taught about sex can make you feel like you're somehow "bad" now that you did the deed, but you really are not. Don't listen to them. They are wrong, and you are fine and great.
9. It might be something like what you've seen in porn, but also probably not at all.
Watching porn (if that's something you're into) can be helpful just so you know the basics about like... what goes where or whatever. But IRL sex between two normal humans who aren't being directed by a professional porn-watcher is not going to look anything like porn sex does. This is truly for the best.
10. Go pee. Go pee. GO PEE. GO PEE. GO PEE.
If not immediately after you're done having sex, then even sooner. Seriously. Do not linger in that bed or car or wherever it is you just deflowered. Get up, go pee, and pee until you can't pee anymore. There is almost nothing worse on this planet than a UTI, and the easiest way to get one is to skip going pee after sex. And go before, too! It's essential. Welcome to the prison of adulthood.
11. Just because you have sex with someone does not mean you have to love them or marry them.
The theme to all of this should be pretty clear by now: Do what you want! As long as your partner is on the same page, do whatever you want. Sex has very few rules, but consent and comfort are chief among them.
12. Don't be afraid to ask your partner for what you really want.
If you really want your partner to do the thing you know will get you off—ask for it! A good partner should be accommodating, as long as it's something they're comfortable with. Masturbating is great, but sex is almost always better, so long as you aren't too timid to make some simple demands. You've earned it.
13. You might not have an orgasm, but that shouldn't be the norm.
And don't fake it, just because you "feel bad" or whatever. This is why it's good to tell your partner what you want and what you like. But don't be discouraged if you don't orgasm the first time. Sex involves a lot of moving parts (literally), and sometimes it just doesn't happen. If you never orgasm and it becomes an issue, you can always see your gynecologist about this. Don't let your partner have all the orgasms without speaking up.
14. It's really only going to get better.
I don't know if there's any truth behind the idea of a "sexual peak," but like any sport or art form or what have you, sex only gets better with practice. This isn't me telling you to go forth and have all the sex you can possibly have. It's just saying that you shouldn't be discouraged if you're just kinda like "meh" after the first time. Be patient, grasshopper. Things will improve.
Follow Hannah on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.