Everyone who has sexual relationships, whether they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or straight, should take precautions to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV and unwanted pregnancy.

If you are in a sexual relationship, it is essential to practice 'safe-sex', i.e. use protection. Men having sex with men or women should use a condom. Women having sex with women can also protect themselves, by using a female condom or dental dams (small, thin, square pieces of latex that are used for oral-vaginal or oral-anal sex).

If you want to have sex without protection, you and your partner should both undergo a full sexual health check-up to make sure that neither of you have any STIs. Men and women having sex together should of course also take steps to avoid unwanted pregnancy.

To avoid any risks, some people, particularly teenagers, choose an alternative to sexual activity and decide that their relationship will only involve kissing, stroking, cuddling and talking.

If you need to talk to someone, please use our need to talk pages. Trained Befrienders are there to listen to your problems, questions or concerns, whatever they are, in a caring and non-judgemental way. You can speak to them anonymously and in complete confidence.

Information and support about sexual health is available from the following links. If you need help or support please click on the link marked 'I need help'.

Terence Higgins Trust
Sexual Health for All
Sexual Health Advice for people under 25
Advocates for Youth
Youth Resource
Gay Men's Health Charity
Information on HIV and Aids
International Helplines Directory
NHS - British NHS website with sexual health advice and how to find your nearest clinic to get sexual health screening

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