Why is Sexual Health Important?

Equal, respectful relationships and having access to services and information, are an important part of sexual health. Sexual health risks include the risk of unplanned pregnancy and the risks of getting a sexually transmitted infection. People MAY take more risks when they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

How To Help Yourself & Others

1

Don’t take chances with your sexual health

Always use condoms and dams and practice safer sex. If you’re worried about sexually transmitted infections then go and speak to a health professional. Services are available from THinK clinics / The Arch, Walk-in-Centres, GP surgeries and or a community Pharmacy. 
2

​Recognise what is and is not a good relationship.

Don’t allow others to take advantage of you in any way. If you’re not ready for sex or decide to stop or not to go through with having sex then don’t feel pressured into doing something you don’t want to. Remember choosing to not be in a relationship or waiting for the right person to time is a responsible, positive and acceptable decision to have. If your partner cares for you then they should respect your feelings.
3

Emergency Hormonal Contraception

If you’ve had unprotected sex or your regular contraception fails and you require Emergency Hormonal Contraception then go to a service that can help you as soon as possible. Even though EHC can work up to 5 days after unprotected sex it’s always best to go sooner rather than later for it to be more successful. This is also a good time to get a sexual health check and further sexual health advice.
4

Think about your contraception options

Think about your contraception options if you’re sexually active by discussing all the various methods available with a professional health practitioner. For the best advice make an appointment with a local sexual health clinic. See further information about opening times and venues below.
5

Need More Help?

If you’re a young person and need help, information advice or support concerning Sexual Health or Emergency Hormonal Contraception then help is available from local or national services, see our Who Else Can Help section.

Who Else Can Help?

There are lots of local and national organisations who can offer support, advice & guidance if you need it.

WHAT ARE THE FACTS ?

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.

Sexual Health Myths

Check out some of the most common Myths that we hear from young people - and what the actual TRUTH is...

MYTHBUSTERS

​You only get STI’s from regular sex!

The truth is you can spread infections from one person to another through any kind of sexual contact where bodily fluids may be exchanged. This includes penetrative sex (vaginal or anal), intimate touching, oral sex and or sharing sexual toys. It doesn’t matter if you’re a straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual if you have had sexual contact with someone else it is likely bodily fluids would have been exchanged unless you have practiced safer sex and used condoms and dams (dams are designed for oral sex and cover the vagina or anal area). It is possible to spread STI’s through oral sex and anal sex.   

I’ve only slept with one person so I can’t have an STI!

You may have only had unprotected sex once with one person and think that this means that you have a near zero chance of having caught an STI. The thing is however if your partner has had unprotected sex with someone else in the past and they had unprotected sex with two people and they had unprotected sex with three people and so on then infections could have been passed on and found its way on to you. It is possible to get an STI the first time you have sex so always practice safer sex and use condoms and dams as this the best way of protecting you and your partner.

​If they’re negative I must be!

There are many sexually transmitted infections that act differently and may take time to develop their symptoms after having unprotected sex. This is known as an incubation period so the time a test is taken into account as screening does not always pick up the infection straight away. For example Chlamydia may have an incubation period of one to two weeks before a test would show up as positive. Therefore a person could have unprotected sex with someone who was positive for chlamydia and go for a test the next day resulting in what’s known as a false negative because the infection was not detectable at that time. However if a test was taken one to two weeks after unprotected sex this may identify a positive result because the incubation period would have elapsed and the infection would have had time to develop. So just because someone said they had a test and were negative it’s always worth considering the incubation period.

I’d know if I had an STI!

Many people often believe that they would know if they had a sexually transmitted infection or HIV even because there would be visible signs or symptoms present. The fact is that signs and symptoms of many STI’s may only show in the later stages after the infection has had time to take hold. If you’re worried it’s better to get a test rather than wait for noticeable symptoms to appear resulting in long term health problems. For more information on STI’s got to www.brook.org.uk/

​The contraceptive pill makes you fat!

This is not true but a common fear and one of the many myths people use for deciding not or avoiding to take the contraceptive pill. Other myths include the pill makes you infertile or encourages water retention. It’s understandable that the pill is not always the choice for everyone. In order to get the best advice and the right contraceptive method make an appointment to see a health practitioner who can discuss all the options available to you.