Sexual Health

If you’ve seen one of our Dr YES sessions on Sexual Health you’ll know we talk about a whole range of things sex-related, from STIs (sexually transmitted infections) to contraception to visiting your doctor and getting checked up. For more information have a look at the following websites that we have collected together to help with any sexual health related issues. Check them out below:

Consent

Consensual sex is when people agree to engage in sexual intercourse. Consent is all about communicating with your partner and having conversations about what you want or don’t want from sex.

Requirements for sexual consent:

  • Ready – Being 16 years or over and feeling emotionally and physically ready within yourself.
  • Willing – You get to choose who you have sex with and what sexual acts you are comfortable with.
  • Able – You must be able to give consent. Some circumstances may make people unable to consent:
    • Being asleep or unconscious
    • Being intoxicated or drugged
    • Having a disability which means they don’t have the ability to consent

Consent is an active process where you can freely say ‘yes’. You can also change your mind and say ‘no’ at ANY time.

If you have any more questions about consent, head to the link below.

Contraceptives

Contraception is the use of methods to prevent pregnancy.

Barrier contraceptives work by putting a physical barrier between genitals. These methods can prevent pregnancy and STI transmission.

Hormonal contraceptives prevent pregnancy by regulating the female reproductive system, however they don’t protect against STIs.

Click the tabs to the side to learn about some common methods of contraception. If you want to speak to someone or have any questions about contraception, you can visit Get The Facts, or call the SHQ helpline on (08) 92276178.

The emergency contraceptive is for use after unprotected sex, or contraceptive failure. Many people know it as ‘the morning after pill’ – but it should be taken as soon as possible and you don’t have to wait until the next morning!

It is just one pill with a high dose of hormones that delays ovulation. It doesn’t ‘flush out’ an embryo if it’s already formed, so it isn’t an abortion.

It’s available through your GP or at pharmacies. It is most effective immediately after unprotected sex. It can be taken up to 5 days afterwards, however the effectiveness is significantly reduced the later it’s taken. People can often feel a bit nauseous after taking the emergency contraceptive pill, but it has no significant bad effects on your body. If you think you might need to take the emergency contraceptive pill, you can call the SHQ helpline to talk it through with a nurse.

SHQ helpline: (08) 92276178

Condoms can prevent pregnancy and STIs by providing a barrier from skin-to-skin contact and can be used during oral, vaginal or anal sex. They’re 98% effective if used perfectly every time. So make sure you do all these steps to best protect yourself and your partner!

  1. Check expiry date – expired condoms may be degraded
  2. Check for holes – chip packet test for air bubble
  3. Tear down perforated edge – don’t use your teeth and be careful of long nails
  4. Squeeze the tip of the condom – remove all the air to leave room for semen
  5. Roll condom to the base of the penis
  6. Place water or silicone based lube on the outside of the condom – this can increase pleasure and reduce friction during sex
  7. Get consent – make sure your partner is ready, willing and able to give consent
  8. Have sex!
  9. Remove condom and put it in the bin – hold onto the condom and withdraw the erect penis straight after ejaculation

These are thin sheets of latex that can be used for STI protection for oral sex on a vulva or anus. You can buy them online or from your local family planning clinic (like SHQ). Alternatively, you can cut a condom to make your own DIY dam!

Make a dam out of a new condoms (Image: QLD Health Dept.)

This is a pill containing hormones that you take at the same time every day. It works in three ways, it:

  1. temporarily prevents ovulation.
  2. temporarily thins the lining of the womb (uterus) to prevent a fertilised egg from attaching to it.
  3. thickens the discharge (fluid) from the cervix to help stop sperm from reaching the womb (uterus).

It is 97-99% effective, but only if taken correctly every day. If you are taking a combined pill and are more than 24 hours late taking a hormone pill (not a sugar pill), then you are at a risk of unplanned pregnancy. If you are taking a progesterone only pill (also known as the mini-pill) then there is a risk of unplanned pregnancy if you are 3 hours late taking your pill.

There are many different types of the pill with different hormones, so work with your GP to find a type that suits you.

This is a small plastic rod that sits just under the skin in the upper arm. It slowly releases hormones into your body to prevent pregnancy.

It is a very effective contraceptive, with success rates over 99% and it lasts for up to 3 years. Some people may have issues with bleeding and spotting after getting the rod, but this usually settles down after a few months.

This is a small plastic device which is inserted into the uterus. There are two types, one with hormones and one with copper. They are both equally effective (over 99%) at preventing pregnancy and last up to five years for the hormonal IUD, or up to ten years for the copper IUD.

There is a short procedure to have IUDs inserted, which can be uncomfortable for some people, but it usually isn’t too painful. There can be some annoying bleeding in the first few months after insertion, but the hormonal IUD generally decreases frequency and heaviness of periods.

This is a hormonal injection which lasts for 3 months. It’s very effective if taken at regular 3 month intervals and is a medium length contraceptive option. The main issue with the injection is that if you get side effects, you can’t stop them immediately, as the hormones are already in your bloodstream.

Pornography

Most young people will watch online porn at some stage. While it’s a totally normal thing to do and be curious about, it is important to realise that a lot of things you see in porn are very unrealistic.

Porn is a performance by actors for entertainment, not for their own pleasure or intimacy, so it always looks super great. Also, it’s important to remember that porn usually shows genitals that look a certain way. In real life, everyone has bits that are different shapes and sizes, just like any other part of the body. People can feel pressure to remove their hair downstairs because of what they see in porn. Remember, pubic hair is completely natural and it’s a personal choice to remove it! Porn often shows rough or mean sex, especially towards women. It’s important to talk to your partner about what they want before having sex a certain way – don’t just assume they want rough sex. And lastly, people hardly ever use condoms in porn. Young people actually use condoms way more than porn actors.

Porn can also be pretty addictive. If you find it getting in the way of other parts of your life, it might be a sign you’re watching it too much. Watching a lot of porn can sometimes make people have less enjoyment or be unable to become aroused from real life sexual experiences.

Tips for safer porn use:

  • Avoid porn in which anyone is abused, humiliated or degraded.
  • Limit your porn use – don’t let it get in the way of study, sleep or hanging out with friends.
  • There is nothing wrong with being interested in sex and sexual feelings. Just be aware of how porn might affect your relationships and learn about sex from more reliable sources than porn!

Sexting

Sexting refers to sending or receiving sexual messages or nude pictures or videos. It’s quite common amongst young people, and can be part of exploring sexual relationships. While sexting can be fun or exciting, there can be some pretty serious consequences, so it’s important to understand the risks so you can keep yourself safe.

Under Australian law, it is an offence to possess, control, produce or supply nudes under the age of 18. If convicted, you may be placed on the sex offender register. Currently there are no guidelines in WA on how the police deal with sexting offences, however it seems they are more likely to press charges if the sexting involves harassment or threats.

Sending a safer nude

If you do decide to send a nude, it’s important to do it safely. Here’s a few ways to keep yourself safe in the cyber-world!

  1. Get consent from the person who is receiving it – unsolicited pics are a form of sexual harassment
  2. Conceal your identity – just in case the nude ends up somewhere you don’t want it, make sure no identifying features are in the photo. This includes your face, tattoos, piercings, personal belongings, school/sports uniforms etc.
  3. Set clear expectations with your partner for what will happen with the photo
  4. Turn off automatic syncing on your devices, and be careful about what apps you use.

If you receive a nude

  1. Don’t show it to your friends – the person who sent it to you has put a lot of trust in you.
  2. Don’t forward it – even if you have a fight or bad break up, sharing an image out of anger can have serious long term consequences for everyone involved.
  3. You don’t need to respond – if the pic is unsolicited, you can delete it, ignore it, or ask the person to stop. It’s also possible to block people on most apps.

If a nude has been shared online you can

  1. Ask the person who shared it to remove it
  2. Report the image if it’s on social media
  3. Contact the administrator of the website
  4. For more information you can visit the eSafety website https://www.esafety.gov.au/image-based-abuse/action

Find out more!

Sexual Health Quarters

SHQ (Sexual Health Quarters) offers a sexual health clinic, counselling, education and training, resource centre, and disability and youth services for men and women of all ages.

Sexual Assault Referral Centre

The Sexual Assault Resource Centre has a 24 hour emergency line for recent sexual assault – phone (08) 6458 1828 or 1800 199 888

Emergency telephone counselling (8.30am and 11.00pm daily) – phone (08) 6458 1828

Get The Facts

Get The Facts is a WA Health Department website with some great resources on everything sexual health. You can even get an Online STI Test!