In the UK the legal age of consent for sex is 16 years old and whether you are in a long term relationship, or simply having some fun – it is highly important to look after your sexual health and stay safe from STI’s or unintended pregnancy. There are a number of young person focused organisations who you can visit to access contraception and free condoms as well as offering advice and guidance to help you make the right choices.
STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection)
If you have recently had unprotected sex with a new partner or If you are worried that you have an STI there are free, confidential advice, tests and treatment from your GP and the GUM (genito urinary medicine) clinics. The FPA website will tell you where your local clinic is call 0845 122 8690. STIs are much more common than you think and often there are no symptoms. The sooner you get checked out the sooner it can be treated if there is an infection. For under 25’s there are free Chlamydia tests which can be ordered confidentially on line - log onto http://www.freetestme/
Condoms are the only form of contraception that protect you against STIs. You can access condoms for free if you are aged 13-21 by registering at a C-Card centre . These can be found at a range of youth centres, colleges and chemists. For services across Cornwall log onto www.eefo .net to find your nearest C-Card service. Brook UK will sign post you to your nearest service anywhere in the country and advise on which service might be the best suited to you. www.brook.org.uk
There are lots of types of contraception to choose from and different things will suit different people. All contraception is free on the NHS in the UK. If you're not sure which type of contraception you want to use, it's a good idea to talk it through with someone you trust. You can pick up free contraception and get confidential advice from a Brook centre (if you are under 25) see web address above or call 0808 802 1234. All calls are confidential.
The Brook website contains a useful online assessment tool which you can complete anonymously (it cannot be traced back to you). The answers you give help to make sure that the contraceptive methods suggested in My contraception toowww.brook.org.uk/contraception/my-contraception-tool take account of your personal circumstances and are the most suitable methods for you. You can also access contraception services from your GP or at a Family Planning Clinic (FPA). The FPA offer a Web Enquiry Service (Ask WES) at www.fpa.org.uk
If you think you might be pregnant
If you think you could be pregnant you should do a pregnancy test as soon as possible. You can buy a pregnancy test to do yourself or you can ask for a test to be done (for free) at your GPs, or at your nearest family planning clinic / sexual health service. If the test is positive – whatever you feel about the pregnancy (and it is normal to feel a range of emotions) it is important to take time to make the decision that’s right for you, but it’s also important not to delay making your decision.
Brook can offer support and guidance about all options. The FPA website offers lots of helpful information. For a fee you can discuss your options with organisations such as Marie Stopes
Support for Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people
Sexuality comes in many different forms and can in some cases be quite difficult and confusing to deal with. Most people question their sexuality at one time or another and it can take a while to decide who you fancy. ‘Coming out’ (telling other people that you are LGBT) can be an easy process for some people and less easy for others – but there are many sources of support locally and nationally. Remember, you don’t have to be LGBT to challenge homophobic bullying or behaviour.
www.healthygaycornwall.org.uk tel. 01209 313419 - promotes good health and well being for gay/bisexual men.
FFLAG www.fflag.org.uk is a national voluntary organisation and registered charity which supports parents and their lesbian, gay and bisexual daughters and sons. 0845 652 0311
www.Stonewall.org.uk works with a range of agencies to address the needs of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals in the wider community.
Abuse in teenage relationships is a pattern of abusive behaviour that someone uses against a partner. Abuse doesn’t have to be physical, it can take many forms, including threats, emotional abuse, insults, isolation from friends and family - even controlling what someone wears or who they socialise with. It can also include sex before they are ready and rape. Abuse in relationships can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender o family situations. It can happen to boys as well as teenagers in same sex relationships. There are many organisations who can provide help and support.
www.direct.gov.uk/thisisabuse - a website dedicated to the issue of teenage relationship abuse
www.victimsupport.org.uk 0845 30 30 900 – a national charity that can help if you are a victim of abuse or violence
www.rapecrisis.org.uk 0808 802 4040 – offers a range of services for women and girls who have been raped or experienced another form of sexual violence
www.rspectphoneline 0808 801 0327 – for anyone looking for help with their violent/abusive behaviours