1. Relationships are important!
Sex is a natural and positive aspect of any intimate relationship but it’s important to consider the right time and person to share this experience with. Relationships that are not respectful and loving and maybe abusive can lead to distress both physically and mentally. It is important to recognise the signs of an abusive relationship, which may include: pressure to have sex which is non-consensual (mutual permission not given), involves physical, mental or sexual abuse, involves risk taking including unprotected sex or drug and alcohol use, are controlling making you feel uncomfortable and vulnerable i.e. someone asking you to send naked photographs by text or over the internet. Once a picture is on the internet there is nothing you can do about it and anyone can see it including your family and friends. If you’re worried about relationship issues you can talk these through with a person you trust such as a teacher, youth worker, nurse, GP or parent.
2. Carry, talk about and use condoms!
There are many things people blame for their reasons for not using condoms such as, they’re too small, they spoil the enjoyment, allergies to latex, I’m not dirty, I forget to use them or I can’t afford them. The fact is they are all just excuses and wearing a condom is the best protection you have from preventing a sexually transmitted infection, they help against unwanted pregnancies and show you are a responsible person with your partner when you form a relationship. Keeping a condom or two safe in your pocket, or bag, is a good idea just in case they’re needed. There are many ranges of condoms from flavoured to latex free available from services, along with help, information and advice on how to use them so there is no excuse for not using them. Knowsley Youth Mutual also currently operates the C-card scheme (condom card) across Knowsley. The C-card provides young people aged 13 – 19 with free condoms, confidential advice and information after a short consultation with a youth worker.
3. Look after yourself and your reputation!
Sex with another person is something everyone thinks about at some time. It is always best to wait until the right time when the right partner comes around and you’re ready. Reputations are important and part of how others view us, which includes attraction. It’s not cool or attractive for boys or girls to have a reputation or history of sleeping around or having lots of unprotected sex. Unprotected sex increases the chance of sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) such as Chlamydia and / or HIV.
4. Get tested!
If you have had unprotected sex then you could be at risk of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) so it’s best to visit your local sexual health service and get a sexual health check. Infections that can be transmitted include Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, HIV, Herpes, Warts (Human Papillomavirus or HPV), Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.
Testing for Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea is free, quick and easy and needn’t be embarrassing as it’s a simple urine test. Girls can choose a self-testing swab. Boys have no need to fear the dreaded ‘umbrella’ as thankfully this is just a myth. Home testing kits are also available. In a sexual health clinic a routine screen would include a Chlamydia/gonorrhoea test and a blood test for HIV/Syphilis. Other infections would be discussed and may require the opportunity for being examined by a qualified health practitioner. See the ways to help section for more information on testing and sexual health services.
5. Long Acting Reversible Contraception
Contraception is available in various forms from the regular pill, which has to be taken each day to reliable long acting reversible contraceptive options (LARC) such as the implant, contraceptive injection and / or IUS / IUD or coil. All LARC’s have the benefit of being 99% effective and once in place take anyway the need to think about them until they need replacing or reversing. Injections last around 12 weeks whereas the implant can work for 3 years and the coil from 5 to 10 years depending on the type. Both the implant and the coil are reversible and can be removed at any time. A health practitioner can offer confidential factual advice at a sexual health clinic concerning all LARC.