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Looking after your sexual health

Having sex with someone can, if you’re not careful, lead to some unintended consequences. You might end up with a sexually transmitted infection (STI), or an unplanned pregnancy. Both of these can have long-term effects, though can generally be avoided if you take certain precautions.

Examples of such precautions include:

  • condoms
  • contraceptive pills (only prevents pregnancy)
  • contraceptive implant (only prevents pregnancy)
  • intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD, IUCD) (only prevents pregnancy)
  • alternatives to sex, such as kissing, cuddling or masturbating.

If you have had unprotected sex or the method of contraception didn't work, there are still options if you are worried about getting pregnant. An emergency contraceptive pill can prevent pregnancy, as long as it is taken within 72 hours (3 days) of having sex. These can be bought from a chemist, the Family Planning clinics or your doctor on prescription.

If you’re sexually active, you should also make sure you’re having regular STI checks.

Neither of these should be relied on however, and the best way to avoid anything unexpected happening is by taking precautions and being careful.

Useful links:

Who can I talk to?

Having someone you can talk to is key if you’re going to manage your sexual health successfully.

Developing a trusting relationship with your doctor is particularly important. Being able to visit a doctor that understands your history and how to care for you, especially for anyone in the LGBTQIA+ community, helps make sure your sexual health is looked after.

Some other services you can contact are:

  • Family Planning – You can call or make appointments with Family Planning for advice on sexual and reproductive health issues.
  • Healthline – Healthline offer advice and information from trusted, registered nurses.
  • Youthline – Youthline is available to discuss a range of issues relevant to young people, including sexual health.

Key websites

  • HealthEd - HealthEd is a great website to search for free health resources. It covers everything from mental health to sexual health, and has lots of in-depth content from the Ministry of Health and Health Promotion Agency.
  • Ministry of Health - The Ministry of Health is the government ministry that looks after health and disability. As well as having a range of articles, they also have information on their website for Healthline, which is a number you can call if you’re looking for advice.