Information on Sexual Health and Relationships

Consent

If you’re planning to do anything sexual then everyone involved must give consent. Consent is an essential part of healthy relationships and it’s really important to know what it is and the many ways to spot it.

Consent means agreeing to do something. When it comes to sex, this means agreeing to have sex or engage in sexual activity.

Any sexual contact without consent is illegal and no one should ever feel they have to do something they are not comfortable with or don’t want to do. Just because you have consented to one thing, it doesn’t mean you have consented to something else. It’s OK to say no or stop at any point if you don’t want to continue.

Consent is important in all parts of our lives and is the key to healthy, happy and safe relationships.

To find out more about sex and consent, visit the Brook website (external link) or watch their video.

Note for iPhone users and Youtube. There is a known bug with iOS and Youtube, Two buttons are read before the player but provide no functionality. We advise that you skip these to access the content.

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Ready for sex?

So everyone's talking about sex, but how do you know that you are ready for it?

  • First, remember that you should always be in control. You never have to do any sexual act - not sexting, kissing, foreplay or penetrative sex if you don’t feel ready. Alcohol and drugs can lead to you acting in ways you normally would not act
  • Before you explore someone else's body, get to know your own body first. Then you can guide your partner towards your favourite bits, and show them what to do when they get there! The more you know about your body, the more you can look after it and use it healthily
  • Take it slow. You can have a lot of fun with someone without going all the way. Kissing, cuddling and fondling are often just as enjoyable and intimate as penetrative sex

Make sure you’re really ready. You may be if:

Finally, remember to have fun! Lots of young people hype sex up, and you might find yourself getting anxious before you do it. Your body can react in strange and surprising ways to sex and it often doesn’t go as planned. Don’t worry - see the funny side of it and then forget about it. Take the pressure off yourself, take a breath, look after each other and you’ll both have a great time.

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Safe Relationships

If you need help for sexual or relationship abuse, you can find local services here.

Relationships are an essential part of everyone’s life - we all need someone to talk to, someone to hold, and someone to love. However this need can make it difficult to see if your relationship is healthy.

A healthy relationship is when a partner listens to you, encourages you to do things you enjoy. They trust and believe you, and tell you the truth. They are fair in an argument and even if they get angry, they never become aggressive towards you.

An unhealthy relationship may involve one or many of the different types of abuse. Abuse is not always obvious, so it can be difficult to tell if you or someone you know is being subjected to abusive behaviour. No one has the right to subject you to any kind of harm, or expect you to do something that you don’t want to do.

  • Verbal abuse is when someone says something to hurt you. This may be calling you names, or saying something that they know is painful for you to hear, or makes you feel bad
  • Emotional abuse is when someone uses their position in your relationship to gain power over you. This may include persistent calling and checking up, or stopping you from doing something that you want to do
  • Physical abuse is when someone intentionally hurts you with physical contact; even a pinch could be considered physical abuse
  • Financial abuse is when someone prevents their partner from having any say or control over their money and victims can become trapped
  • Sexual abuse is being forced or pressured to take part in sexual activity including unwanted touching, ‘sexting’ (texting sexual images), being forced to watch or be involved in pornography or sexual bullying
  • Rape is an act of sexual violence and domination and is when someone is forced to have any kind of sex - vaginal, anal or oral - without consent. Rape carries a maximum of a life sentence in prison

You can find more information about relationships and abuse on these external websites:

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Talk to someone

If you need to talk to someone about your sexual health or contraception call: 020 3317 5252 to book an appointment at one of our young people’s clinics.

If you are worried about a relationship or any sexual experiences there are a range of services you can talk to.

Sexual health clinics

There are sexual health advisors at all Sexual Health Clinics who are happy to talk about any of your concerns related to sexual health, relationships, contraception and STIs.

Find a clinic near you.

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More information

Sexual Health

Drugs and alcohol, substance misuse

Mental health/emotional wellbeing

Online safety

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Page last updated:

September 14, 2021