YOUR GUIDE TO www.sexualhealthcentre.com SEXUAL HEALTH
Although it happens quite slowly, puberty is the time when the body changes because the body produces hormones to make it ready for sexual development. The sexual parts are switched on, moods change, and body parts change. Puberty can happen to you later or earlier than to your friends. This is normal.
breasts and nipples get bigger waist narrows hips widen ovaries, womb and vulva get bigger periods begin the vagina gets a bit bigger and produces more fluids (discharge) n Skin may get greasy n n n n n n
Male changes n n n n n
shoulders broaden facial hair voice deepens penis gets longer and wider testes (balls) get bigger
Both n n n n n n n
underarm and pubic hair body odour spots mood changes growing pains emotional changes sexual attraction
Young people often feel that they should know everything about sex. But we all have gaps in our knowledge. Even parents and teachers! This resource was written to help fill those gaps so that you can safely enjoy your sexual health.
male body changes The penis hangs outside the
body. The head (called the glans in medicine) is where both urine and semen come out. The glans and the rim (the raised ridge of the penis) are very sensitive to touch. There are very many different sizes, shapes and colours of penises. None of this makes a difference to sexual satisfaction.
Foreskin is the loose fitting skin
which can be pulled back and covers the glans (head) of the penis. It is clitoris hair pubicimportant to keep the area under the foreskin clean. You can do this by pulling back the foreskin and washing ureth it well when you are in the shower or ra bath.
major labiaCircumcision is when the foreskin
You do not need a mirror to see the male sex organs as they are very visible from the front of the body. The male sexual organs include the penis and the two testes (often called balls) which are held in skin sacs called the scrotum.
OUT YOUR RRIED AB ULD TALK O W E R A IF YOU ANGES, YOU CO GP OR BODY CH PARENT, FRIEND, E. TO YOUR AL HEALTH HELPLIN A SEXU
other things to know There are a number of organs in the penis, scrotum and pelvis. One of these, the urethra is a tube through the penis where urine and semen come out of the body, (but not at the same time).
An Erection happens when you are sexually aroused and the penis becomes filled with blood. The penis becomes hard and erect (upright).
is removed. This can be done for Ejaculation is when semen spurts out of cultural, hygiene or medical reasons al opening the penis at orgasm. vagin and is usually minus done in infancy. labia
The scrotum is a sac of skin under
the penis which holds the balls.
The testes produce sperm and
the male sex hormones. The testes move closer to the body during sexual arousal and when they are cold so that the temperature is kept at the correct level for the production of sperm.
MALE SEX ORGANS penis
Semen (cum) is the fluid that is ejaculated from the penis. Although the sperm that is ejaculated could fit on the tip of a pin, there are about 300 million of them in each shot. And it just takes one of these to fertilise the egg and lead to pregnancy. Precum is the name given to the fluid that comes out of the penis during sexual arousal before ejaculation. Some people think that if the man withdraws his penis before he comes then the woman cannot get pregnant. This is not true as precum carries sperm in it. Sexually Transmitted Infections can also be passed through precum. Some young men have Wet Dreams. This is when semen is ejaculated while they are asleep. It’s a perfectly normal part of development. If you are worried about your body changes, you could talk to your parent, friend, GP or a sexual health helpline.
experience I felt OK about my body changing. I just wished it would happen quicker. But when it did it was no big deal. I noticed we were all at different stages. I worried about the showers because the other guys had hair on their balls and I didn’t. I thought the ones with the heavy growth on their faces were really cool. When I got any bit of facial hair I didn’t really know whether to leave it or to shave it. I shaved the chin and left the bum fluff above the lip. Some of the guys pretended to talk in lower voices to make them sound like they had broken. Pretending to be more macho than they really were. I wasn’t afraid of the body changes. There was nothing weird about nakedness and that. I was used to seeing my parents naked so I knew what to expect. But sexual feelings! I worried about whether I’d be any good at sex. The worst was always wanting to be masturbating when I was supposed to be studying. But I got used to that too. Anyway, what I’d say is don’t worry if you don’t kick in as early as your friends. The changes will happen and its no big deal.
, erections During adolescence . If you time can happen any thinking on concentrate else your about something go down erection should
SEXUAL HEALTH BEGINS WITH KNOWING YOUR BODY
female body changes Periods
One of the biggest changes in a young woman’s life is when she starts getting her periods. Once your periods start it means that a female is physically able to have a baby. When periods start, they might not come every month at first. This is perfectly normal. l T he blood that comes out of the vagina might be brownish for the first few times. l Periods usually last 3 to 7 days. l You may get period pains, lower back pain or cramps just before or during the period. Some people have mild pains, while others have very painful periods. l Dysmenorrhoea (dis-men-or- e-a) is the medical word for painful periods. If your period is very painful or heavy, you should go to see your doctor or talk to your parent or friend.
Premenstrual Tension (PMT or PMS) is when women may have mood changes and a range of physical and emotional changes just before their period begins. It is usually caused by hormonal changes in the body. Some women get very bad PMT while others just feel a bit uncomfortable.
The time it takes from the first day of your period to just before your next period is called the menstrual cycle. Your cycle can be anything from 21 to 42 days but medical books tend to take 28 days as the average. l D ay one of your period is the first day of your cycle. l Days 6 – 11, the lining of the womb gets thicker so that the fertilised egg can grow. l Days 12 – 16, ovulation, when the egg is released from the ovary in which it is stored. This is your most fertile stage which means you are more likely to become pregnant if you have sexual intercourse. l D ays 17 – 28, if you are not pregnant, the lining of the womb comes away, causing your period. The bleeding comes out through your vagina. If your menstrual cycle is longer than 28 days, ovulation takes place around 12 to 16 days before the beginning of your next period. Remember, you can get pregnant at any time during your cycle.
Other Changes Breasts Breasts become larger (size varies) and more sensitive. The area around the nipple may become wider and darken in colour. Pubic Hair Hair usually grows in a triangular shape in the pubic area. You may have a lot of hair or not very much. We are all different. Sometimes women are embarrassed when their pubic hair sticks out the sides of swimwear onto their thighs or up to the belly button. This hair can be removed, if you wish, by a special cream or by going to a beautician to have it waxed. Hygiene We all have our natural body scents. To keep your body smelling pleasant you will probably need to wash more often (daily!) once puberty starts.
“Change is supposed to be good” . But surely changes that make you more spotty, sweaty, increase your body size and a lot more awareness when members of the opposite sex are within a ten mile radius and that unstoppable bright red flush creeps up your neck and doesn’t stop and you end up shining like a beacon – surely this can’t be good change????? Well, my friends and I certainly didn’t think so. We moaned constantly and continually – that is until we realised that along with these changes came more welcome ones – more noticeably larger breasts and womanly curves (eventually). But then – uh oh, the thing your mother has
been waiting for so that she can squawk and squeal “my baby’s finally a woman” (much to my eternal embarrassment). PERIODS – This is it – the one that made me curse the male sex for not being able to experience this strange emotional slightly painful (cramps) and having to buy those ugly but comfortable big knickers. But I do take some childish relish when after over-reacting to some little thing again! (PMT) realisation slowly dawns. So what I’m trying to say is that puberty is a very mixed bag. But once I knew what was happening, I was fine.
having a look at your body By examining your own body you can learn to understand it and this will help you to be less self-conscious. It may also help to make it more enjoyable when you start to have sex.
The vulva is the name for the female genitals which are outside the body. The parts of the vulva vary in size, shape and colour from woman to woman. Your vulva lies between your legs and is therefore not as visible as a man’s penis. To see your genitals you can sit or stand with your legs apart holding a mirror facing your genitals.
urethra labia major labia minus
The Clitoris (from the Greek word for key) is
the most sensitive part of the vulva. It gets bigger during sexual arousal and helps produce an orgasm. The clitoris (or clit) is the only human organ made solely for pleasure.
The Vagina is an opening which can stretch to hold an erect penis inside or to allow a baby be born through it. This is also where blood flows out during a period. The opening to the urethra is just in front of the vagina and this is where urine comes out. The vagina has natural healthy bacteria to keep it healthy. Some women use products to clean the vagina but these are unnecessary and may even harm the natural bacteria.
vaginal opening anus
FEMALE SEX ORGANS
Labia The two labia (lips) help protect the genital area. When you are sexually aroused, they make a discharge that softens and moistens the vagina. They can be very sensitive during sex. The labia vary in size and shape from woman to woman.
inside bits The G Spot Some people say they have none and others believe there
are many. G Spots may be found (not easily) along the wall of the vagina. pubic hair Some women find it very exciting when a G Spot is touched. Other women don’t find it particularly exciting at all. We are all different.
The Cervix is the lower part of the uterus and you can feel it by putting your fingers upshaft to the top of the vagina where it feels soft and smooth to the touch. The cervix gets wider when a womanpenis is giving birth. scrotum
The Uterus (womb) lies at the top of the vagina. It is hollow and pear
shaped with muscular walls. It has an inner lining that thickens each foreskin month so that it can receive the egg, if it is fertilised. This is where the baby glans develops and grows for nine months. urethra
relationships With Parents
During your teens you will probably become more involved with your friends and more independent of your parents. As your hormones are changing and you are becoming more independent, you may be more likely to fly off the handle and probably have more arguments with people – especially your parents. It is a difficult time for them too as they have to live with your changing moods and learn to accept that you are no longer a child. Can you talk to your parents about your changing feelings?
The age of consent sexual intercourse for in Ireland is 17
Sex is much more than sexual intercourse!
Remember to talk to your partner about how you and they feel. It is important that you both know each others sexual histories. Some people have unplanned sex, risking pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Remember to take care of yourself EVERY time!
Teenage years can be very exciting and great fun. But you may also feel very lonely and insecure. You may feel jealous, excluded and insecure at times. It is good to get in touch with your own thoughts and feelings and learn to express them. Your friends are probably going through the same things.
Some people get caught up into behaving in negative ways just because they make a few mistakes. l Some people have sexual intercourse before they are ready and regret it. l S ome people get pregnant or get a sexually transmitted infection on their first sexual encounter. l S ome people have their first sexual experience while drunk (some so drunk that they cannot remember what they did or even if they did it).
As well as being supportive, some of your friends may be urging you to do things you are not comfortable with, such as smoking, drinking, taking drugs, having sexual intercourse. Or you may not always like the way they behave towards you. You have a right to be yourself and to make your own decisions and so do your friends. Learning to be assertive, to take responsibility for your life are useful skills for relationships and sexual health.
If you start your sexual life in a way that does not suit, you can change. You can say no at any stage in a relationship if that is what you want. You are more likely to enjoy your sexual experiences if you wait until you feel ready and you want it for yourself, not just to please the other people.
The most important thing is to do what you are happy and comfortable doing, to respect yourself and your partners sexual health.
Once puberty has arrived you may start finding yourself having a lot of new sexual thoughts and feelings. You will probably begin to feel sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex or to people of the same sex, or both. You may become curious about sex and start experimenting.
How do you want to start your sexual life? While there is no set pattern to good sexual relationships, you can have fun, be safe and learn useful skills by not rushing into sexual intercourse. Looking, flirting, chatting up, hanging out, dating, breaking up, touching, holding hands, kissing, French kissing, talking, fondling outside clothes, fondling under clothes, stroking of genitals etc. are all part of developing sexual relations.
Cara, a young peer educator at the sexual health centre says... Here’s some helpful hints and guidelines for relationships, friendships and crushes! As everyone grows at different rates, people develop relationships at different stages. I learned that sometimes you just have to wait for the right person to come along …. Trust is so important! To be comfortable with each other, confident to open up and get to know each other and have fun. Knowing your boundaries, knowing what you do / don’t want from your relationship. Don’t let your partner pressurise you into anything. Don’t get too deep if you don’t want to. People change and you’re young. If you’re thinking about having sex, discuss contraception and know about things before they happen. Be independent, make your own mind up, have friends and fun. And if you have problems, speak to someone about them, someone you know / trust or contact a peer helpline or group. The Sexual Health Centre schools mentoring programme is open to young people aged 16 – 21. They are trained in sexual health and drugs awareness. See our website on
sex have to have not do to you want if you do not
Rape and Sexual Abuse
A sexual act is abusive when you or your partner do not consent to it, are pressurised or intimidated into having sex. If you are forced, threatened, pressurised, tricked or intimidated into sex or you do these to another person, then this is abusive. It is NEVER right. Child sexual abuse is when a child is used by another person for his or her pleasure or sexual arousal or for that of others. If you are worried about sexual abuse, please contact a Rape Crisis or Sexual Violence Centre which supports people who have been sexually assaulted or abused.
Sexuality Sexuality is a fundamental part of being human. It means much more than sex and sexual intercourse. It is what drives us to develop relationships where we can be sensual, loving and intimate. It influences our thoughts, emotions and behaviours. Our feelings about sexuality are an important influence on our sexual health.
Sexuality And Disability
People with disabilities have sexual needs and feelings. If you have a disability you might find that these needs, thoughts and feelings are often not recognised, even by people who really care for you. Many people with disabilities say they feel very lonely and find it hard to have good sexual relationships. Many others say that their disability does not interfere. Sensuality is about being sensual as well as being sexual. Our country is slowly changing so that there is less prejudice against people with disabilities and greater recognition of your rights
l A lthough we always hear “everyone is at it”, the truth is that very often this is just wishful thinking. l There are lots of people out there who want to wait a while before having sex. l When people don’t make their own choices about sex they very often end up being hurt and confused. l If you decide not to have sex it’s OK and you should not let other people pressure you into having sex.
If a person says NO to sex, they mean NO
sexual relationships Puberty brings changes in feelings as well as bodily changes. Sexual desire becomes a more important part of healthy social and personal relationships. It helps to get to know your own thoughts and feelings so you know what is right for you. Sex can be one of life’s greatest pleasures. But it can also be very disappointing, frustrating or embarrassing. It can make you feel very vulnerable. It helps if we understand our sexuality and can communicate with our partners. Intimacy takes time and familiarity. It has to be worked on between two people. There are many things involved in sex that can make it enjoyable for both people.
sexual activities Masturbation
People used to think that masturbation could make you blind or give you hairy palms. This is rubbish! Men and women often masturbate and it can be done with other people or on your own. Really it’s just another part of sex. It is normal and it’s quite safe. Knowing how your own body gets turned on can really help, if and when you do have sex with someone. If you know what turns you on then you can show the other person what works for you.
is the climax or peak of sexual excitement. It usually involves pleasurable feelings and rhythmic contractions of the muscles. For males, ejaculation usually happens at the same time as orgasm. Women don’t find it as easy to climax as men and will probably need more time. On the other hand, they can have many orgasms.
Oral sex is using the mouth or tongue to arouse the genitals of a sexual partner. Oral sex can be given and received by both men and women. Oral sex is a choice; some people love it and others hate it. It is important that you are comfortable with what you do. Do not give oral sex if you have cold sores, as you could spread herpes (see section on STIs). You could use flavoured condoms at this time.
This type of sex most often includes the man putting his penis into the woman’s vagina and having sexual intercourse with various rhythmic movements until one or both of them come (climax).
Most sexual experiences will start with a kiss or at least include kissing at some point. Everyone has their own individual style of kissing and so it can be very useful to take your time. There are many ways of kissing and practising them is another reason not to rush into sexual intercourse.
Anal sex is when the man puts his penis into the back passage (anus) of his partner. Anal sex is often highly risky sex and if you are having anal sex it is very important to use a good quality condom and lubricant. Anal sex should not be used as a means of preventing pregnancy. If you have unprotected anal sex then the semen in the anus could easily slip out and make its way to the vagina. Again, it is important that you are comfortable with what you do and you should never feel pressurised into doing things you are not happy about.
Know Who You Are With
Sex is not just about having sexual intercourse. It can include lots of things like kissing, touching, fondling, mutual or self masturbation.
Safer sex is giving and getting sexual pleasure without passing semen, vaginal fluids or blood into your, or your partners body. Safer sex helps protect you against STIs (see section on condoms and STIs). Some people think that safer sex is boring but it can actually make your sexual life more fun and interesting.
If you are sexually active (and remember most young people are not having sexual intercourse) you could consider what John, a peer educator says: “Know who you are with. You should consider your own and your partner’s sexual history. And if you are not planning on being a parent or getting a sexually transmitted infection, then you should use a condom and probably another form of contraception too”. If you move from one sexual relationship to another you may come in contact with an STI (sexually transmitted infection) and you may pass one on to your other partner without meaning to. See the section on STIs for further information.
same sex relationships Heterosexuals (straights) are attracted to people of the opposite sex; homosexuals (gays, lesbians) are attracted to people of the same sex; bisexuals are attracted to people of both sexes. You may know from a very young age whether you are gay, straight or bisexual. Or you may feel attracted to someone of the same sex sometimes but not others. There is nothing unusual about having a crush on someone of the same sex. It does not necessarily mean that you are gay, lesbian or bisexual. If you are gay, lesbian or bisexual you may have heard loads of jokes about gay people. This is because there is still a stigma against people who are gay or bisexual. But you have as much of a right to love and fancy the person you choose as a straight person does. Once people accept their sexual orientation, whatever it is, they can choose friends and partners who are supportive of their choices. People who are gay, lesbian or bisexual have similar types of sexual needs and feelings as people who are straight. You just choose to do it with people of the same sex.
experience I knew I was a lesbian from a young age. I had crushes on other girls and women. I felt very negative about my body. It got to be quite depressing. I did not want to be sexually attractive to men. I suppose I came out to myself first, and then thought OK now, I’m gay and what do I do? I heard of this group for women just coming out and I went there. I was petrified about having sex with a woman. What exactly do you do? It was all unknown territory to me and I was afraid. Looking back now and where I am now, I’ve come a long way. Sometimes sex can be kind of scary but in a nice way – like a big wheel or roller coaster ride.
contraception The most common contraceptives used by young people are the pill and condoms. Condoms are the only form of contraceptive that offer protection against most STIs. l Contraceptives are what we use to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. l There is no 100% safe and effective method of contraception. l It is important to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each method and find one that meets your particular needs. l You can maybe ask your parents for advice on contraception before entering a relationship. l You can also go to your GP or Family Planning Clinic where there are professionals who can advise you on the method most suited to you. See www.sexualhealthcentre.com for more information.
The pill is prescribed to a woman by her doctor. It works by stopping eggs being released from the woman’s ovaries. It must always be taken as prescribed. If you have been vomiting, are taking antibiotics or you forget to take the pill you may not be protected, and it may be best to check this with your doctor. l If taken correctly (every day) the pill is considered to be 99% effective against pregnancy. l The pill does not provide any protection against Sexually Transmitted Infections. l l l l
l T hese slowly release the hormone progestogen. They can stop ovulation and prevent fertilisation. l Each injection lasts for 8 – 12 weeks. l Contraceptive injections do not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections
l M ale condoms help prevent sperm from being released into the vagina or back passage during anal sex. l They are considered to be 98% effective against pregnancy when properly used. l Condoms can be purchased over the counter from chemists or supermarkets. l They help protect against most STIs.
Female condoms are inserted into the vagina. It helps prevent the sperm from being released into the vagina.
femidoms Condoms and from can be purchased supermarkets chemists or
Other provide methods do not protection sexually against transmitted infections
CONDOM CHECKLIST Check the condom has not passed its sell by date (Yes they can go off!!!) Make sure that the condom you are using has a safety mark e.g. CE on the foil packaging. Keep your condoms away from heat, light and damp as these can damage them. Carry them in your wallet or bag. Open the packet carefully in the middle and watch out for nails, jewellery etc. as they can tear a condom easily. Wait for the penis to go hard. With one hand, squeeze the tip of the condom with your thumb and finger to get rid of all the air at the tip. Put the condom on the penis with the other hand and roll it all the way down. Be sure to put it on with the roll on the outside. If you need lubricant (wet stuff) use something that is water based (you can buy these at the chemists). Do not use any oils e.g. baby oil, butter, etc as these rot the condom really quickly and will mean that it won’t protect you. Withdraw the penis straightaway after you’ve come. Hold the condom firmly at the base to stop any leaks. Knot the base of the condom, wrap it in a tissue and throw it in the bin. Do not throw it down the toilet, as condoms won’t flush!! You should only use one condom at a time and they can’t be re-used. If you’ve never used a condom before, practice by yourself first. Girls can practice on a cucumber or banana.
Condoms are available from SHC & YHS
Contraceptives can have side effects
Discuss these with your GP or Family Planning Clinic the diaphragm (cap)
l T he diaphragm is a dome of thick rubber with a rim containing a flexible spring. l It fits inside the vagina over the cervix. It stops the sperm reaching an egg. l The diaphragm does not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections
the intrauterine device (iud)
l T he IUD (or coil) is a small piece of plastic and copper placed inside the womb by a doctor. l It last for 3 – 10 years. l The IUD does not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections
the vaginal ring
l T his is a flexible ring inserted into the vagina once a month. It works like a combined pill with lower oestrogen. l It is convenient to use. l The vaginal ring does not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections
natural family planning
l This is based on awareness about your fertility. l It is helpful to be trained by an expert in this method as it can be difficult to monitor. l Natural Family Planning can be difficult for young people as it relies very much on having a regular menstrual cycle.
l T hese are flexible tubes containing progestogen. They are placed under the skin on the inside of the arm by a doctor. They prevent ovulation. They are a long term contraceptive, lasting up to 3 years. l Implants do not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections.
l P atches are thin, beige and about the size of a matchbox. l They can be applied to various parts of the body but should not be put on the breasts. l They are used for three of the four weeks of the cycle and changed weekly. l They are similar to the combined contraceptive pill. l Patches do not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections
emergency contraceptive pill
l T his can be used if you had sex without contraception or if you think your contraception may not have worked. It delays or stops ovulation and prevents fertilisation. l You must take it within 72 hours of unprotected sex. l The earlier you take it within the 72 hours, the more effective it will be. l Emergency contraceptive pills do not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections l Emergency contraception (sometimes called the morning after pill) is for emergencies only and is not a substitute for contraception. It is prescribed by a GP or Family Planning Clinic.
active and If you are sexually yourself against wish to protectand most STIs, pregnancy and another use a condom form of contraception
WITHDRAWAL IS NOT A FORM OF CONTRACEPTION DON’T WORRY! I’LL PULL OUT BEFORE I COME
Some people think that if you have sexual intercourse and the man withdraws from the woman before he ejaculates (cums) or if you do it standing up you will not get pregnant.
THIS IS NOT TRUE.
Often fluid containing sperm (precum) comes out of the top of the penis after it is erect and this can cause pregnancy (and STIs).
getting pregnant Sexual intercourse can lead to pregnancy, even if you are using contraception. So if you are worried about being pregnant, talk to someone you trust or telephone a helpline for help. Read the section on your menstrual cycle first. You can get pregnant at any stage during your menstrual cycle. NANCY NWANTED PREG U AN E AV H U IF YO T ASK FOR SUPPOR
How do you know if you are pregnant?
If you have had sexual intercourse and have missed a period, your breasts may be more swollen or tingly than usual, your vaginal discharge has changed, or you need to pee more often, you may be pregnant. You can tell for sure by having a pregnancy test. Take a parent or friend with you when you are having the test. You may need the support.
If you are pregnant you can have a pregnancy test at a GP’s or at a pregnancy counselling clinic. You can also buy home testing kits from the chemists. SHC & YHS provide free pregnancy testing.
If you are pregnant?
If you are pregnant you may be scared of telling your parents. Although parents may be angry when they first discover you are pregnant, most are very supportive. If you are worried about telling your parent(s), you may find it helpful to talk to a trusted adult friend or a SHC Helpline before you talk to your parent(s).
Keeping your baby
You may decide to continue with your pregnancy and get married, parent alone, live with the baby’s father or have your parents look after it. You might also consider fostering or adoption for your baby. Whatever option you take, it may be a difficult decision and you should make sure that you make the one that is most comfortable or you. There are teen pregnancy support agencies in many areas. Contact your local HSE office for information.
As many pregnancies are unplanned it is often advised that women of child bearing age take folic acid which helps pregnant women to produce a healthy baby.
Abortion means that the pregnancy is ended by a medical procedure. Abortion is not legal in Ireland and women who decide to have an abortion must travel outside of Ireland to have one. Some agencies can give you counselling and information on how to contact a clinic to arrange one. Abortion is a very emotional subject and it is very important that you go to a reputable agency for help. Text “list” to 50444
pregnancy and birth l If you are pregnant you should tell your parents and contact your doctor, if you can. l It is best to cut out alcohol, cigarettes and any other drugs you are taking that can harm your baby. l Y our general health and your diet are even more important now to help produce a healthy baby. l During the first three months you may feel sick and a bit tired. l M ost women feel very healthy and energetic during the second three months. l B y the third three months you will probably begin to feel the size and weight of the baby and may feel tired and uncomfortable. l It can be helpful and rewarding if the father is involved in the pregnancy and birth of the baby, where possible.
CONCEPTION The sperm is ejaculated into the female vagina during sexual intercourse. Hundreds of millions of sperm are ejaculated but it just takes a single sperm to fertilise the woman’s egg. There are two ovaries at the end of each fallopian tube. They produce and store the eggs (ova). Each egg has the potential to be fertilised by a sperm. Ovulation is when the egg is released from the ovary. This is the time you are most likely to get pregnant. It usually happens around 12 to 16 days into your cycle. However every woman differs, so do not take this for granted. Get to know your own cycle. If the egg is fertilised (when the male sperm meets the female ovum), it travels up the fallopian tube to the uterus where it embeds in the lining. If the egg is not fertilised within 24 hours after its release from the ovary, the woman will not be pregnant and will have a period. Conception begins when the male sperm and female egg meet and unite in the woman’s fallopian tubes. Conception is the start of a nine month period that leads to the birth of a baby.
agencies counselling Crisis pregnancy if you are pregnant can offer support all your options can discuss you that so
If you would like further information or support with a crisis pregnancy, text “list” to 50444 or look up www.sexualhealthcentre.com, or phone SHC Helpline 021 4276676
People under the highest 29 have STIs in rates Ireland of
infections (sti ) s
Sex can be fun and pleasurable. But if you want to stay healthy, you need to take care. When you have sexual contact with a person you may pick up an infection from them. A person who has an STI can pass it on to another person without even realising. STIs are increasing in Ireland. The best way to avoid them is to know about them and protect yourself. You can
Who is at risk? l l l l
TIs are increasing in Ireland, especially among young sexually active people. S Many young people in Ireland have chlamydia and do not know that they have it. You can get an STI the first time you have sex. You don’t need to have “full sex” to get an STI.
How do you know if you have an STI?
l O ften you can have an STI and have no symptoms. l It is possible to have more than one STI at a time. l The best way to find out if you have an STI is to have a test.
STI and not
’t doesn I T an S dirty Having you are mean
Some of the most common symptoms are: l l l l l l
nusual or unpleasant discharge from your vagina, penis or anus (back passage, arse) U Pain or burning when peeing Unusual pain during sexual intercourse “Spotting” (bleeding) between periods Pain and swelling in the groin and testes (balls) Irritation, rashes, sore patches, lumps around the genitals or anus
can you tell which one could have an STI?
has someone them if at tell looking cannot by you just an sti
STIs is not of avoiding sure % 0 (one) 0 to be 1 a monogamous STIs. in The only way sex free of or to have to have sex partners are both where relationship
Most STIs treated are and easily cured
How can you reduce the risk of STIs? l l l l l l l l l l
Condoms help protect against most STIs, so use them correctly and every time you have sex. Practice safer sex. Avoid oral sex if you or your partner has sores on the mouth, gums or genitals. Reduce your number of sex partners. Anal sex is highly risky for STIs. You must always use a good quality condom and lubricant. Watch your use of drugs, including alcohol, as they can make you do things you might regret and leave you more open to taking risks. Have regular check-ups for STIs You and your partner could have STI screenings before starting a new sexual relationship. If you are worried that you may have an STI, seek help. See back page for contact details. If you have an STI you may be advised to avoid vaginal, oral and anal sex during treatment until you are clear of infection.
Where can you get help?
l Y our local Sexual Transmitted Infections Clinic or Genitourinary Medicine Clinic (GUM Clinic) offers free and confidential screening (testing) and treatment. The clinics can be busy, so it is best to telephone to make an appointment. l You can contact The Sexual Health Centre website on www.sexualhealthcentre.com or The Sexual Health Centre helpline (021 4276676) for information about what is available in your area. l You can contact the YHS on 021 4220490/1 for a clinic specially for young people. l Some infections take time to show up in your system so do not worry if you don’t get an appointment straight away
Bacterial infections such as chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea are treated with antibiotics. Warts are treated with solutions to burn, freeze or dry them off. But the virus may remain in your body Herpes cannot be cured but treatments can help avoid or relieve some of the symptoms to help stop people becoming sick. HIV cannot be cured but very effective treatments are now available. Pubic lice and scabies are treated with lotions. If a woman has genital herpes when having a baby she may have to have a caesarean section (an operation to deliver the baby).
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STIs can have long medical sounding names. They may be caused by a virus (genital warts, HIV, hepatitis A + B and herpes), bacteria (chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, nsu) or by skin contact (pubic lice, scabies). Common STIs in Ireland are genital warts and chlamydia. Chlamydia
(pronounced cla-mid-e-a) Chlamydia is the most common curable bacterial infection. Why should you care? Chlamydia is increasing in Ireland, especially among young sexually active people. Many young people in Ireland have Chlamydia and don’t know they have it. If you have chlamydia and it is not treated you can get serious infections and may become infertile (not able to get pregnant). What can you do about it? Chlamydia is easy to treat with special antibiotics prescribed at a clinic.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus which damages the immune system. Why should you care? Once HIV is in your body, it is there forever. If untreated, HIV can cause AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). What can you do about it? HIV is preventable. There is no cure for HIV. But there are treatments to help to stop it damaging the immune system. If you are worried about HIV you can have a test for the virus.
Genital warts are caused by a virus (the human papilloma virus). Warts can be small or large lumps. The warts you can get on your hands are different than the ones on your genitals.
Why should you care? Genital warts are the most common STI in Ireland. You can pass on the wart virus fairly easily by skin contact. Warts are easy to treat but the wart virus can sometimes be in your body for about a year before you see any growths. You could pass it on without even knowing you have it. Once you get the wart virus it can stay in your body for a number of years. What can you do about them? Warts can be removed by covering them in a liquid or cream that will burn or freeze them off. It may take a few treatments at a clinic to remove them.
(pronounced gen-it-al hurr-pees) Genital herpes is caused by a virus called herpes simplex. Type 1 of this virus is normally found around the mouth and causes what we know as cold sores. Almost all cold sores are not an STI. Type 2 is normally found around the genital area and causes genital herpes. Why should you care? Once you have the herpes virus it stays in your body. It is possible to pass on cold sores from the mouth to the genital area through oral sex. The eyes, fingers and breasts can also be infected. If a woman has herpes sores when having a baby she may have to have a caesarean section (an operation to deliver the baby). What can you do about it? You can get treatment to help with the symptoms. It also helps to relieve
symptoms if you keep the genital area cool and dry, wear loose cotton underwear and avoid tight clothing and sunlight.
What are pubic lice? Pubic lice (crabs) are small insects that live in areas of the body where coarse hair grows (not the head), especially the groin. They can also live in armpits, eyebrows and eyelashes. They are different to head lice. Why should you care? They can be irritating and embarrassing and you can easily pass them on to someone else even without having sexual intercourse. They are most common in young people. What can you do about it? The body hair is covered with a special lotion to kill off the lice and their eggs which lie in the root of the pubic hair. Waxing and shaving will not get rid of them. Pubic lice can be embarrassing but do not cause serious health problems.
Is can Most ST cured be easily There are other STIs which you can get. These include Gonorrhoea (gon-or-ee-a), Trichomoniasis (pronounced tric-o-monas), Non Specific Urethritis (NSU), Syphilis (pronounced cif-ill-is) and Hepatitis. You can get more information about them on...
Alcohol And Other Drugs Are you aware that… l Alcohol can make you behave in a way that you wouldn’t if you were sober. l Many people have risky, unplanned and often unsatisfactory sex after using drugs, especially after a lot of alcohol. l You are still responsible for your behaviour, even if you are drunk or on drugs.
The internet is a great source of information. But many internet sites on sex are unrealistic and exploitative. Real women and men are not like the images you see on sites. www.sexualhealthcentre.com has information on sexual health and drugs awareness and has links to other good sites.
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The Sexual Health Centre (SHC) was formed in 1987. We provide sexual health and drugs awareness education for groups and individuals. Our services include: l l l l l l l l l l
ex Education S Professional Training Crisis Pregnancy Counselling Pregnancy Testing Support for people with HIV Peer Education Developing resources (like this one) Drugs Awareness Telephone Helpline Support for parents
You can call to the SHC or the YHS for free and confidential support and information. If you live outside of Cork, contact the SHC website for information about services in your area. If you want to know more about our peer education groups for young people phone our helpline or look up our website. If you are interested in finding out more about The Sexual Health Centre, look up our web-site:
If you want to talk to us you can phone our telephone helpline on 021 4276676
useful numbers Cork / Kerry The Sexual Health Centre 16 Peters Street, Cork 021 4276676 www.sexualhealthcentre.com Youth Health Service 73 Shandon Street, Cork 021 4220490/1 Cork Family Planning Clinic 23 Tuckey Street, Cork 021 4277906 Tralee Women’s Health and Family Planning Clinic 29 Ashe Street, Tralee 066 7125322 Sexually Transmitted Infections Clinic South Infirmary / Victoria Hospital Infirmary Road, Cork 021 4966844 L.Inc (Lesbians in Cork) White Street, Cork 021 4808600 • www.linc.ie Southern Gay Mens Health Project 8 South Main Street, Cork 021 4278470 www.gayhealthproject.com Health Promotion Department Health Services Executive Southern Area Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, Western Road, Cork 021 4921641
National Information Crisis Pregnancy Agency 01 8146292 Text list to 50444 www.crisispregnancy.ie Irish Family Planning Association 60 Amiens Street, Dublin 1 1850 495051 • www.ifpa.ie HIV Services Network www.hivireland.ie Gay Community News www.gcn.ie Information available on HIV / AIDS Services Sexually Transmitted Infections Clinics Gay Helplines See: www.sexualhealthcentre.com
Sexual Violence Centres Sexual Violence Centre 5 Camden Place, Cork 1800 496496 • www.sexualviolence.ie Kerry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre 11 Denny Street, Trallee 1800 633 333 • www.krsac.com
This resource was written by the Sexual Health Centre, with funding from the Health Services Executive South. © Sexual Health Centre
The Sexual Health Centre 021 4276676