Am I Ready?

There can be a lot of pressure on you to do things before you are ready to, but at the end of the day you have to make sure that you only do what is right for you.

It can be embarrassing talking about sex and relationships. You don’t always want to discuss things with your parents and your mates don’t have all the answers, even though sometimes they pretend that they do. Don’t just listen to advice from them as they probably exaggerate things to make themselves look cool – just do what you feel happy with.

If you are thinking of taking your relationship further or maybe your partner has suggested having sex you need to make sure that you only do it when you feel 100% ready. Talk it through with your partner and make sure it is something that you both want. Remember that you don’t have to go all the way all at once. Losing your virginity is a big step and you don’t want to look back in a few years time and wish that you had waited. There are other ways you can pleasure each other before making this big step. If you do have sex always remember to use protection and use it correctly.

Don’t forget, legally, you must be over 16 and give your full consent to sex.

It can be a good idea to get some advice about relationships, contraception and STIs (sexually transmitted infections). For some free confidential advice on anything to do with sex and relationships go and see your doctor or visit your local family planning clinic, they will see you even if you are under 16.

Sex – Are You Thinking About It Enough?

If you are under 18 and want information about anything to do with sex, relationships, contraception or sexual health this site is for you! The Sexwise helpline has advisers available giving free advice – if you have a question or want some advice call 0800 28 29 30.

Like It Is

If you’re sick of reading stuff about sex that doesn’t tell you what you really want to know, then this is the website for you. ‘Like it is’ tells you everything you need to know, exactly as it is.

What are STIs?

STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) are pretty much the same thing, and they can have some devastating long term effects on your health if they’re not treated in time. Remember, being on the pill will not protect you from STDs or STIs.

How to stay safe

It is important that you use protection whether you are gay, lesbian or straight, to avoid STIs.

Even if you are not having penetrative sex with someone, you could still be at risk of serious STIs if you don’t use a condom or other form of barrier contraception (such as a diaphragm or cap).

A spermicidal lubricant can make contraception even more affective. You can buy condoms that contain spermicide, or buy it separately.

What are the effects of STIs?

Here are the effects of some of the most common STIs:

Chlamydia

If left untreated, chlamydia can lead to infertility for both men and women. You might experience no warning symptoms at all, so get checked out if you’ve had unprotected sex.

Genital herpes

Genital herpes can be passed on through sexual intercourse and oral sex. They cause blisters which can be painful and sore and may return several times over your lifetime.

There is help available to ease the symptoms, so go and see your GP or local Genito-Urinary Clinic (GUM) clinic.

Genital warts

Aside from sounding unpleasant, genital warts look pretty unpleasant and are passed on through skin-on-skin contact. They can be removed by a medical professional.

Gonorrhoea

Also referred to as ‘the clap’, gonorrhoea can cause unusual discharge, painful urination and a range of other symptoms. You might get no symptoms at all however and, if left untreated, gonorrhoea can cause infertility.

Hepatitis B

This highly infectious virus can cause serious damage to your liver and make you feel very ill, with flu-like symptoms.

Hepatitis C

As many as nine out of ten people in the UK could have Hepatitis C – a virus that causes inflammation of the liver, without knowing it. Make sure you’re not one of them by getting checked out.

HIV and AIDS

HIV, which stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV attacks the cells in the body’s immune system, making it unable to fight infections, which can be fatal.

HIV and AIDS can affect anybody – find out more with our HIV and AIDS article.

Pubic lice and scabies

Both pubic lice and scabies are tiny creatures that live in the genital region, as well as other areas of the body. Both can be treated fairly easily once identified.

Syphilis

Syphilis can be passed on through contact with an ulcer – and not necessarily during sex. If left untreated, syphilis can cause very serious health problems and could even lead to death. But treatment is easy and effective once it’s been identified.

If you have had unprotected sex then the best thing you can do is get checked out by your GP or at your local sexual health/GUM clinic as soon as possible, even if you do not have any symptoms.

See the ‘Who Can Help?’ section for more details of where to go.

Who can help?

The sexwise helpline on 0800 28 29 30 has advisers who are available to answer all your questions and give you free advice about anything to do with sex, relationships, contraception or sexual health. Also have a look at their website at www.ruthinking.co.uk.

If you’re sick of reading stuff about sex that doesn’t tell you what you really want to know then ‘Like It Is’ is the website for you. Like it is tells you everything you need to know exactly as it is. Visit www.likeitis.org.uk for more details.

Another useful website is http://sexperienceuk.channel4.com/sex-education, which provides personal sexual experiences about sexual issues and offers honest and helpful advice on the subject.

Find out all you need to know to keep healthy, stay safe and make condoms a fun and essential part of your sex life at www.condomessentialwear.co.uk.