Health advice for young people

Sexual health

During your teenage years there are many changes happening to how you feel, how you behave, what you want, and changes happening to your body. Sexual feelings also come with these changes, and start at different times for everyone.

You may feel attracted to someone of the opposite sex or to someone of the same sex as you. As you get older, this may stay the same or change. Sexuality is not the same for everyone.

Any form of sexual relationship should be a choice. It is against the law for you to be forced to do something that you don't want to do.

You should talk to someone you trust – choose someone you know or go to an organisation that will give you independent support and advice.

Keeping safe

People think that unplanned pregnancy or catching sexually transmitted infections will not happen to them. It can happen any time, even the first time, so be prepared and know how to use contraception.

Going for contraception can sometimes be embarrassing, so take a friend with you if you want to. There are places just for young people with staff who try to make sure you won't feel embarrassed.

There are some health risks with contraception (the pill), which is why only medically trained professionals prescribe them. They will talk through your medical history with you and tell you about your options. Together you can decide which contraceptive method suits you best.

Being safe is about protection not only from unplanned pregnancy, but also from infections. You should think about keeping yourself safe from infection by using condoms.

Emergency contraception

If you forgot, or you made a mistake, or did not use any contraception, there is a choice after sex. If you are female, you can take emergency contraception up to 72 hours (three days) after sex.

You can buy emergency contraception – the 'morning-after pill' – over the counter at any pharmacy.

Where to go for contraception

If you are under 16, you should be able to get contraception confidentially. This means that whoever provides the contraception will not tell your parents, carers or your social worker. You can go to your own doctor or you could go to a family planning clinic.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

A wide range of infections can be passed from person to person through sex, including some very serious diseases.

Not all infections show symptoms quickly, but common signs could be:

  • pain
  • burning while peeing
  • discharge from the genitals
  • itching, rashes, lumps, ulcers, sores or blisters on or around your genitals
  • pain in your genitals during sex

As you grow older, talk to an adult you trust about these things.

For advice on sexually-transmitted infections you can contact:

Sexual Health Clinic
Anthony Wisdom Centre, Rowley Road, Grays, RM16 3EU

: 01268 592 214

You can also get advice from Boots the Chemist or Lloyds Pharmacy.

For more information on sexual health, go to NHS Choices: Sex and young people.