Sex. You can’t get away from it. If we’re not doing it, we’re thinking about it. But how do you feel about sex, and are you doing it for the right reasons?

Whether you’re single, seeing someone casually, or in a long-term relationship, it’s likely that sex will come into the equation at some point. But are we really as obsessed with sex as we’re led to believe? BareAll06, an online poll supported by the Department of Health, revealed that seven out of 10 (69%) 16 to 24 year-olds said they waited until they were 16 or over before having sex. Almost a quarter (23%) first had sex at 16, but nearly half (46%) waited until they were older.

“Sex is like oxygen. It’s just a problem if you aren’t getting any,” says Marcus, 21 years-old. Well that may be true for one of our users, but is it really a bad thing if you aren’t getting laid?

Gagging for it

Are you someone who thinks about sex all the time? Perhaps you’re addicted to porn? Or maybe it’s subliminal sexual messages that make you go weak at the knees, like the sight of someone showing off their midriff or the smell of a fragrance. You want to talk about sex all the time and when you’re not talking about it, you fill the conversation with sexual innuendoes.

You may be continuously thinking about when you’re going to get your leg over, or have regular flashbacks from your last sexual encounter. Two weeks without having sex is a long time in your eyes. If you’re in a relationship and you aren’t getting it every time you see your other half, then you worry there’s a problem. If you live with your partner and you aren’t getting it at least three times a week, you fear the honeymoon period is over and that things aren’t as good as they were before.

The right balance

Now we’re not saying that all of those elements are negative – you can drool over as many people as you like and think about sex all the time, if that’s what gets you through the day. And there’s nothing wrong with looking at naughty magazines or films, or having great shag flashbacks. It’s when you become a bit too obsessed and find it taking over your life that there may be a problem.

The great thing about sex is that it really is quality and not quantity that you should be looking for. What’s the point of shagging your other half every time you see them and having marathon-long sessions, only to be completely knackered the next day? Not to mention the sex injuries you may sustain if you end up throwing each other around as if you’re starring in a porn movie. And if you’re partial to a one-night stand, do you really feel good when you go from one person to the next?

Then there’s the useful, yet sometimes complicated, fuck buddy. You may be getting your fill of regular sex, but is your casual arrangement holding you back from embarking on a new relationship? As well as all these highs and lows, you may also be putting yourself at risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection, so however frisky you’re feeling, make sure you protect yourself.

Sexual confidence

Perhaps you’re perfectly happy without sex in your life. You may have already lost your virginity and are waiting for the right person to come along, or you simply haven’t had the urge to lose it in the first place. You wear clothes that are sexy, not necessarily to turn other people on, but to feel sexy on the inside. You don’t let anyone have their wicked way with you, perhaps because you’re scared of getting hurt, or because you believe your body is a temple. It may also be a religious belief that makes you abstain from sex.

Sex is something you think about regularly, and you want to be good at it, but it’s not the be all and end all. For you sex is more about building a trusting and loving relationship than about getting down and dirty. “I feel at my most natural and beautiful when I’m having sex,” says Stephanie, 19 years-old. “I love that when I’m having sex, it completely takes over my brain. I can let go and enjoy it, and all that matters for a while is you and your partner, nothing else, which I think is pretty great.”

Addicted to sex

If you’re thinking about sex all the time, and you’re doing it just to get an instant lift, it may be worth asking yourself if you feel fulfilled in other areas of your life. Sex addiction can be just as serious as any other type of addiction. During sex our bodies release chemicals that make us feel good, but the downside if you’re doing it randomly or just to get a high, is that your body can get used to having sex to achieve this euphoria. This can leave you with feelings of shame, regret and anxiety, especially if you end up having sex just to get the high. If you think you’ve got a problem, you may want to talk to a sex therapist at the British Association of Sexual and Relationship Therapists.

Having sex can make us feel loved, important and powerful, but for Lucy, 19, abstaining from sex can also have the same effect. “Going out, dressing up and feeling that people are attracted to me, but not going all the way or giving them what they want, often makes me feel far more in control, attractive, confident and independent.”