When you haven't had sex for the first time, the age that you lose your virginity can seem like a huge deal. But in all honesty, it shouldn't be. When you choose to have sex for the first time is up to you.
What is important, however, is changing the way we talk about it. According to licensed psychotherapist and sex therapist, Mary Fisher, CMHC, “Instead of saying, ‘losing your virginity,’ I use the words, ‘making your sexual debut.’ Losing usually has a negative connotation, and your sexual debut should be a positive experience.”
Besides, the concept of "virginity" has problematic associations tagged along to it. For instance, it comes with old-school ideas that women are somehow property, chastity is prized over more important things like consent, non-exploitation, and mutual pleasure, Fisher says. "Considering the fact that there are many ways to start being sexual with another person, it simply makes more sense to define your 'sexual debut' as a premiere series of consensual sexual explorations with another person," she says.
Many define "losing your virginity" as penis-in-vagina sex. But that definition only applies to heterosexual couples who choose to define sex in that way. But what about LBGTQ couples? What about oral sex, anal sex, or even outercourse? Intercourse is not the only way to have sex, and claiming that is the only way to make your sexual debut is simply inaccurate.
While having sex for the very first time really shouldn't matter to anyone but you, it's not uncommon to wonder where you stack up against others. Sexual health brand, Durex, conducted a study of more than 317,000 people from 41 countries to discover the average age people lose their virginities — aka made their sexual debut —around the world for their 2005 Global Sex Survey. On average, people start having sex around the world at around 17. While people in some countries start having sex at an average age of 15.6, others do it as old as old as nearly 20. The United States falls somewhere in the middle at 16.9. But despite knowing all this, does the age at which you first have sex really matter?
Some experts, like dating coach and matchmaker, Laura Bilotta, say, absolutely not. “The ‘right’ time to lose your virginity is whenever you feel like you’re ready,” she tells Bustle.
So just for fun, here are the average ages people first had sex around the world:
Out of the 41 countries studied, people in Iceland were found to have sex for the first time at the youngest age, 15.6.
Germany is at a close second at 15.9.
When it comes to having sex for the first time at an earlier age, Sweden is in the top three at 16.1.
4United Kingdom: 16.6
Over in the U.K., people first have sex at an average age of 16.6.
5United States: 16.9
Those of us in the U.S. have sex for the first time at an average age of 16.9 years old. The U.S. is just above Australia at 16.8 years old, and right under our neighbors from the north, Canada at 17 years old.
Those in France have sex for the first time around the same age as those in the U.S. and the U.K. They do it at an average age of 17.2 years old.
Those in Ireland, Croatia, and Switzerland have sex for the first time at 17.3 years old.
Italians wait a little longer to have sex for the first time than anyone else in Europe at 18.1 years old.
On the other side of the spectrum, Asian countries seem to wait longer than the rest. Those in Vietnam first do it at an average age of 19.6.
People in India wait the longest to have sex for the very first time. They tend to do it at an average age of 19.8 years old.
The truth is, there’s really no right or wrong when it comes to making your sexual debut. How you define "sex" and when you choose to have sex for the first time is 100 percent up to you.