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Sexual Health

There are many myths surrounding sexual health but it is really important to get it right. The most important thing to remember when it comes to sex is that your body belongs to you. Any decision that you make about it should be your own and no one else’s. The law clearly states that for consensual sex to occur both you and your partner must agree to it. If consent is not given then it may be considered sexual assault.

By now you may be aware of sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) and what they are. Basically they are diseases, infections and viruses that get passed through sexual activity. The general rule for preventing STIs is always use a condom. The only time when it’s ok to not use one is when you and your partner have both been tested and cleared for STI’s by a doctor. Any GP or Family Planning centres will do STI checks for you. Remember that people are often embarrassed about STIs so they might not always tell the truth about whether they have one, or they might not even know that they have one. STI’s affect the genitals and reproductive system and symptoms include burning when you wee, lumps, sores, blisters, unusual discharge and stomach pains. However sometimes you won’t get any symptoms so if you’ve had any unprotected sex visit your GP or family planning centre for a test. Many STI’s can be treated with antibiotics so it’s really important to diagnose them as early as possible. For more info on sexual health check out the Reachout , FPWA and Somazone websites.

Or try this great website- Sextxt that gives you the number to text any sex-related questions you have.

Contraception and Pregnancy

If you are having sex it’s important to think about what type of contraception you would like to use to help prevent unwanted pregnancy. There are several options, with the most common being condoms or the pill. To decide which contraception method is best for you talk to your doctor or FPWA (Family Planning WA Centre). Remember that most forms of contraception don’t protect you against STD’s so make sure you always use condoms as well. Don’t ever let someone talk you out of using protection, there is never a good reason for not using it.

If you are having sex, even if you are using contraception, there is still always a small chance that the sex could result in pregnancy. The most obvious sign of pregnancy is a missed period. Other signs are feeling nauseous, sore breasts and general tiredeness. If you think you may be pregnant you need to have a test, so it is best to get to your doctor or a Family Planning WA Centre (FPWA) as soon as you can. Don’t wait to find out- it’s important to find out as early in the pregnancy as possible.

For those continuing with pregnancy you will be scheduled to see your Doctor routinely during the pregnancy to ensure that both you and your baby are healthy. If you decide not to go ahead with the pregnancy your options are to have a termination or put the baby up for adoption. There are plenty of services that offer practical help and emotional support for pregnant women and girls. They can explain all your options for you and help to arrange the correct medical care you need.

FPWA (08) 9227 6177
Quarry Health Centre for Under 25’s (08) 9430 4544
Sexual Health Helpline (08) 9227 6178 or 1800 198 205 (country callers)

An important thing to be aware of is that smoking, drugs and alcohol can have very harmful effects on your unborn baby so if talk to your doctor is you think that this may be a problem for you.

Pap Smears

Once you are 18 (or before then if you are sexually active) you need to have a pap smears every two years. This is a simple, but REALLY IMPORTANT test to check for ovarian cancer. Your GP can do the test for you.

HPV Vaccine
There is a vaccine that is available free from GP’s until June 2009 that prevents the human papillomavirus (HPV) which is the main cause of cervical cancer. If you haven’t already received this vaccine at school visit a GP to find out about it. The vaccine is called Gardisil.