There is so much information available, it can be very confusing knowing where to go to for the correct information to help you look after yourself, stay safe and make the right choices.
Although this is a very personal matter, your School Nurse, GP or a sexual health worker will be able to give you advice, information and support.
Are you ready for a sexual relationship?
Working out when you’re ready to have sex and feeling comfortable about it, is one of life’s big decisions. You’re the only one who can and should decide.
Most people have sex for the first time when they’re 16 or older, not before. If someone’s boasting about having sex, it’s possible they’re pretending.
There are no rules about how long you have to be going out with someone before you have sex. Being ready happens at different times for everyone – don’t decide to have sex just because your friends or partner are pressuring you.
What does the law say?
The law says it’s legal for you to agree – or ‘consent’ – to sex from the age of 16.
If you’re under 16 you can get confidential contraceptive and sexual health services, including advice about an unplanned pregnancy.
You can get free condoms from some GPs, community contraceptive or young person’s clinics and Brook services.
If you’re under 13 the situation is different because the law says you cannot consent to any sexual activity at this age.
You are never allowed to have sexual contact/intercourse with someone without their consent. Nobody is ever allowed to have sexual contact/intercourse with you without your consent. If you are unsure what consent means check out this video:
All health professionals are bound by the same confidentiality rules which mean that a young person can talk ‘in confidence’ (even if you are under 16) and the health professional will not talk about what you have said to other people or to your school.
In some circumstances if the health professional is concerned about your safety or the safety of someone you have told them about, they will have to tell another professional to protect you. If this does happen they will usually tell you first. This will be explained to you at your first contact.
Am I gay, lesbian or bisexual?
It’s normal to feel attracted to both girls and boys when you’re growing up. It can often be difficult to understand the confusing feelings you may have. Your School Nurse will be happy to talk to you about your feelings and support you with information and advice.
15 things you should know about sex:
Contraceptive services are free and confidential. This includes services for people under 16, as long as they’re mature enough to understand the information and decisions involved. There are strict guidelines for healthcare professionals who work with people under 16.
You can get contraception for free from:
- Most GP surgeries (talk to your GP or Practice Nurse)
- Community contraception clinics
- Some genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics
- Sexual health clinics (these offer contraceptive and STI testing services)
- Some young people’s services including some youth services and School Nurses.
- Or call the National Sexual Health line on 0300 123 7123.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, are increasing. If you have unprotected sex your health is at risk. Find out what symptoms to look out for and how to stay safe with these web pages:
What is Child Sexual Exploitation? (CSE)
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of sexual abuse. Children in exploitative situations and relationships receive something such as gifts, money or affection as a result of performing sexual activities or others performing sexual activities on them.