Sexual health involves many things, including: knowing about your body and how it works; understanding the physical, social and emotional changes that come with puberty, pregnancy and ageing; keeping yourself and others safe; and finding information and support when things go wrong, such as an unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection.
If you’re sexually active, making the right contraceptive choice is an important aspect of sexual health and your health in general. Contraception is a minefield of choice that can leave you feeling stunned when faced with all the options. The only effective way to choose what is right for you is to be informed. Contraception education is not only for teenagers and young adults, but also for many older people that chose their method a long time ago and have not looked at new options.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Fact: In the space of ten years, there has been a 700% increase in cases of Chlamydia in Ireland (Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), 2006). STIs are more commonly reported and particularly growing among 20-29 year olds (Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), 2006).
STIs are infections that are passed on from an infected partner(s) during unprotected sex (vaginal, anal and oral). They are caused by specific bacteria and viruses. In some cases, you may be at risk even if you don’t have full sex. Kissing and touching each other’s genitals may pass on some STIs
There are many different STIs – some are more common than others. Most can be cured with medication. However, some of them can only be treated to reduce symptoms but will stay in your system once you have been infected. Remember, only total abstinence from all sexual contact offers 100% protection from pregnancy and STIs.
Good sexual health means making sure you have the knowledge, skills and ability to make informed sexual choices and acting responsibly to protect your health and the health of others. This includes planning pregnancy and parenthood and preventing STIs.