What is Sexual Health?
A definition from the World Health Organisation:
"A state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being related to sexuality; not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be protected, respected and fulfilled".
Some things that help towards good sexual health:
- feeling good about yourself
- having the sex you want when you want it - providing it's consensual, mutual and equal
- not being forced or manipulated into sex you don't want
- not forcing or manipulating others into sex they don't want
- feeling comfortable about your sexual orientation, whether heterosexual, gay, lesbian or bisexual
- knowing how to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections
- knowing that you have the right to not be sexual at any point in your life
- knowing that you have the right to say 'yes' to the sex you want, 'no' to the sex you don't want and the right to change your mind
Everyone has the right to be safe and happy in their relationships, whoever they are and whoever they’re with. Whatever the relationship, it will probably have ups and downs – most do! Good communication and respect going both ways are really important to make it work well.
For most people having sexual feelings is perfectly normal and natural. We all find different people attractive and you might fancy someone or want to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, or maybe you already have a partner.
It can be difficult if all your friends seem to be with someone and you would like to be! But life doesn’t come with a script, and there’s no ‘normal’ way romantic or sexual relationships happen – it’s different for everyone. Spend time doing things you enjoy and with people who make you feel good about yourself.
Whether you are male, female, gay, straight, or bisexual, having sex or not having sex, you might at some point come across problems in your relationships and feel confused about the best way to deal with them. You’re not alone! If you have any worries about your relationship and want some support and advice, talk to a good friend or someone else you trust. You can also visit a Central Sexual Health Clinic – they provide free and confidential information, advice and support.
Am I really ready for Sex?
It’s important to figure out what’s right for you, and only you can make that decision. Rushing into sex to try and make a good impression, or because someone else wants you to, is not a good idea. Making positive decisions is a whole lot easier when you can talk it through with someone you‘re close to and know you can trust.
It’s up to you what you do with your body, and you’re not unusual if you don’t have sex. With all the talking and boasting that goes on, it might seem like everybody’s doing it, but they’re not. Two out of three teenagers don’t have sex until they’re over 16. There are lots of ways of enjoying being together with someone that don’t involve sex – so you need to decide what’s right for you.
It’s not bad or wrong to be a virgin, even if some of your friends are having sex. It is important that no one forces you to have sex if you don’t want to. It’s also important that you don’t have sex for the wrong reasons. Even if people make you feel bad, you should only have sex if you want to, whether it is your first time or even if you have already had sex before
Staying Safe and Healthy
Sexual health is just one part of the bigger health picture. There are lots of components to health – both physical and emotional, and lots of ways that we look after health every day. Everyone has the right to safe, happy sexual experiences. Central Sexual Health supports the World Health Organisation’s idea of sexual health. They say it’s not just about steering clear of infections, and that everyone has the right to safe, happy sexual experiences.
So, being sexually healthy is about having safe and respectful relationships, and not having to do anything sexually that you don't want to. Being emotionally OK is a really important part of sexual health. This means feeling good about your sexual experiences, not regretting anything that’s happened and looking after yourself and your partners.