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Sexual health advice

When I was asked to write a blog about sexual health many things came to my mind that could be included like Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and contraception. However, sexual health is not just about avoiding STIs and unplanned pregnancies.

Sexual health is having a healthy body, valuing and feeling good about yourself, being safe, having positive relationships, experiencing pleasure, intimacy, and joy with someone you connect with whether short term or long term.

We are surrounded by sexualised images, and videos that are accessible by a click of the button on our phone. Sex and sexuality feature in many popular teenage movies and TV series that you may come across like Skins, Euphoria or Love Island.

Sex features in music videos and social media and is widely talked about by pop stars, YouTubers and social media influencers. As a School Nurse and mum of two teenage girls, I often wonder how many teenagers know that these programmes may not be the true representation of what sex, love and relationships should be like. No wonder teenagers often may not be comfortable talking about it or asking for help and support.

I provide sexual health support in secondary schools in Berkshire, and these are the most common questions I’m asked by students who come to see me:

  • Can I have an STI if I haven’t had sex?
  • What are the symptoms of an STI?
  • Does STI testing hurt?
  • How do I use a condom?
  • Can I be pregnant if I didn’t have sex?
  • What contraceptive should I use?
  • How do I know I am ready?
  • I think I like boys/girls/both, what should I do? Is it normal?
  • What is the legal age to have sex?
  • What happens if I have sex and people find out?
  • I sent some sexualised pictures, but we broke up. How can I get them back?
  • My boyfriend/girlfriend wants to have sex, but I am not sure…. What should I do?
  • I had unprotective sex and I am not sure what to do now.
  • Where can I get support but not my GP?
  • I need some support but don’t want my parents to find out.

It may be that you know the answers to these questions, or have someone that you can talk to and ask. But if you do need further support, contact your local school nursing service: this is what we are here for.

Or call our advice line, we’re available 9am-4.30pm Monday to Friday on 0300 365 0010

If you need further information on sex, relationships, pregnancy, STIs, birth control, sexual orientation and more check out these useful websites.

About the author

Monika Mann, School Nurse