In the UK the legal age of consent is 16 for any form of sexual activity for both men and women. The age of consent is the same regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of a person and whether the sexual activity is between people of the same or different gender. This means that people over 16 should not be having sex with anyone under 16.
However, in practice the police are not interested in prosecuting teenagers under the age of 16 where both mutually agree and where they are of a similar age. There is however specific legal protection for children under 12 who cannot legally give their consent to any type of sexual activity. It is always an offence to have sex with someone without consent regardless of age.
Research suggests that the average age in the UK for people having sex for the first time is between 16 and 17. Although it may seem like everyone is having sex under-age, the truth is the majority are not. Choosing when to start having sex is a personal decision and should not be influenced by what your friends are doing. Research also suggests that young people who start to have sex later enjoy their first sexual experience more. Perhaps this is because they have better developed communication skills and feel more confident expressing their needs to a partner.
Find out more about relationships here.