Looking after our sexual health is a crucial part of staying happy and well.
Taking responsibility for our health is a big part of growing up. We owe it to ourselves and our partner(s) to look after our sexual health. This is important as Sexually Transmitted Infections (or STI's) such as chlamydia, herpes, and genital warts are increasing amongst young people.
Taking care of your sexual health will help prevent the spread of STI's and in the long run, can help protect other people's sexual health.
Find out more about STI's and if you should get tested on the Everything You Need to Know About STI's page.
Isn't sexual health just about diseases?
Being sexually healthy means taking precautions to prevent STI's and also ensuring you and your partner(s) have a good time.
- doing these things with someone you trust
- ensuring everyone involved is fully aware and continually consenting
- ensuring that everyone's sexuality and gender identity is respected
- ensuring that everyone feels open enough to talk about their likes and dislikes
- ensuring that everyone is having a good time, including yourself!
Starting the conversation can be a bit awkward but here are some starters that can help;
- "I don't want to rush into anything, these are my boundaries..."
- "Would you be comfortable with doing this?"
- "I want to make sure you have a good time, what kind of things would you like to do?"
- "I've recently been tested for STI's, have you?"
- "What contraception do you want to use? I want to make sure it also protects against STI's just in case"
Take a look at this helpful video from the Rosey Project about having a conversation with your partner:
To make sure your partner is having a good time you can say things like;
- "is that okay?"
- "do you want to try anything different?"
- "did you prefer it another way?"
If someone shows any signs that they are not enjoying themselves, that is a sign to stop.
If you start to become uncomfortable be sure to make that known to your partner, you can say things like
- "that's a bit uncomfortable"
- "can we take a break?"
- "this isn't right for me at the moment"
- "maybe we can try another time, but right now let's do something else"
- "these are my boundaries and if you don't respect that then I need to leave"
It can feel like there is a lot of pressure on you to be doing certain things and while it's easier just to follow the crowd it's important to figure out what you truly want to do to prevent you from making mistakes that you might regret.
Who can I talk to about sexual health matters?
You may feel alone when dealing with a problem regarding sexual health as it can be awkward to talk about.
But there are many people you can reach out to;
- A parent or trusted friend or adult.
- A doctor or a nurse, either at your GP or at any Sexual Health Clinic.
- The National Sexual Health helpline from 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday on 0300 123 7123.
- Call your local pharmacy, take a look on the NHS website if you're unsure where this is.
- LGBT helpline from 12pm to 9pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and from 1pm to 6pm on Thursdays and Sundays on 0300 123 2523.
- Childline 24 hours a day 7 days a week on 0800 11 11.