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If you are going out with someone you may be unsure about a number of things.

By being more open with each other and talking about what's important for you both will help you have a healthy and safe relationship.

In this section we have some useful information to help you find the answers that you may be looking for:

Are you ready for sex?

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.

Sex and the law

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 community clinics, sexual health clinics, and the school nurse.

If you're under 13, the situation is different because the law says you can't consent to any sexual activity at this age.

 Deciding when to have sex

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.

Just because you've had sex before, even with the same person, doesn't mean you have to do it again.

How to talk about sex

It's better to have an embarrassing talk about sex than an embarrassing sexual experience before you're ready.

There are lots of things to think and talk about, such as:

Sex isn't the only aspect of a relationship, and there are other ways of enjoying each other's company. Discuss what you want and what you don't want to do.

You can do other things you both like, such as talking, meeting each other's family and friends, taking part in sport, walking, and listening to music.

The questions to ask yourself about sex

You need to have the confidence to work out how you want to respond if sex comes up and how far to go. Ask yourself if you feel comfortable.

Is it the right time, in the right place, and with the right person? Do you really trust the person, and do you feel the same way about one another?

If you think you might have sex, ask yourself the following questions:

If you answer yes to all these questions, the time may be right. But if you answer yes to any of the following questions, it might not be:

Being in a relationship doesn't mean you have to have sex. Even if you've done it once or twice, you still need to make sure your boyfriend or girlfriend is as keen as you are each time.

How do I bring up the subject of safer sex?

When you decide to have sex, there's the possibility of pregnancy, catching an STI such as chlamydia.

Whoever you're thinking of having sex with, it's important to talk about contraception and condoms before you have sex. Both of you have a responsibility to have this conversation.

Starting a conversation about the different types of contraception could be a good way to start talking about other issues to do with sex, such as how you feel about it and what you do and don't want to do.

You could try saying, "I found out there are 7 different types of contraception … If we were to have sex, which one should we use?”

Researching the options together will help both of you feel more confident and in control of the situation

You can get free and confidential advice about sex, contraception and abortion at any time. Visit your local doctor, community contraceptive clinic, or speak to the school nurse.

Using condoms

You need to use condoms to reduce the risk of catching an STI, including HIV, whoever you're having sex with.

If you're in a boy/girl couple, you should use an additional form of contraception to prevent an unintended pregnancy.

Lesbian, gay or bisexual sex

If you have lesbian, gay or bisexual sex, it's important to use a condom every time as you can still get or pass on STIs, including HIV. You also need to know about contraception in case you have straight sex as well.

Find out more about sexual health for women who have sex with women and men who have sex with men.

Reading the signs they want sex

Many people are surprised when a situation leads to sex, so learn to read the signs. If someone suggests you find a quiet place, makes lots of physical contact, or suddenly tries to charm and flatter you, they might be thinking about sex, even if you're not.

You need to decide whether you want to have sex. Don't let someone else decide for you by just going along with it. Make the decision in advance and stay in control of the situation – especially if you've had alcohol, because you'll be less inhibited.

If you're not sure you can stay in control, avoid situations that could lead to sex, such as going to someone's room or somewhere quiet.

Alcohol won't help

Many people have sex or lose their virginity when they've been drinking. After a few drinks, you're more likely to lose your judgement, and may do things you wouldn't do normally. You may regret your actions in the morning, and you won't be able to undo what you've done.

People are also more likely to have sex without a condom when they're drunk. This can lead to an STI or unintended pregnancy.

Abusive relationships advice for young people

Help and advice for young people who are the victims of domestic abuse.

What is Abuse?

It's not just physical violence, like slapping or punching, that makes an abusive relationship, it can include being:

·         threatened with violence

·         being told what to wear

·         who to see and speak to

·         being told where you can go

·         and/or if you are constantly criticised and put down

If any form of social media is being used to embarrass you or threaten you, at any time during the day or night - This is also abuse

Abuse is never ok - blaming abuse on anger, alcohol, jealousy, as a sign of love or caring, or on the way you behave, the way you look or what you wear, is never acceptable.

Abuse in relationships is not normal or acceptable - if you are in an abusive relationship it's not your fault, and you do not have to put up with it.

Help is available - if you, or someone you know needs advice or support to get out of an abusive relationship or if you want to talk to someone.

Peer pressure

Sometimes it feels like everyone's trying to push you into having sex: your friends, your boyfriend or girlfriend, films and TV. But it's up to you when you have sex, and it's OK to say no. Find out how to resist the pressure.

One minute you're playing kiss chase in the playground and sex doesn't come into it. The next minute your friends are obsessed about when everyone will lose their virginity.

You might be thinking about sex, but the reality of it can be confusing. It takes time to understand what sex is all about. Just because you want to know more doesn't mean you have to rush into anything.

If you're feeling pressured into having sex, you're not alone. You might feel like the only virgin, but the average age teenagers start having sex is 16. This is true for boys and girls, so not everyone who says they've had sex is telling the truth.

Good relationships start with friendship, and trust builds from there.

What is peer pressure?

Peer pressure is the pressure friends and other people you know put on you to do something you don't want to do or don't feel ready to do, such as have sex.

There are different types of peer pressure:

Good reasons to wait until you're ready

The pressure your friends put on you is worse than the pressure you put on yourself. Most of us have to deal with it at some point, but it's difficult when friends brag about having sex and criticise you for being a virgin.

Not everything you hear is true. They could be exaggerating to make themselves look more experienced than you. Rushing into sex just to impress your friends or partner could leave you feeling like a fool because you didn't make your own decision.

It might help you to remember that: 

It's fine to say no or to say you want to wait a while, even if you've had sex before.

Making your own decision

Don't do something you're not ready to do just to please other people. You're more likely to regret your first time if you do it under pressure.

You're also more likely to forget about contraception and condoms, which help prevent pregnancy and protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia.

Having sex won't make your boyfriend or girlfriend like you more or stay with you. Your first time is important, so think carefully about it and take it slowly.

Everyone – girls and boys, lesbian, gay, straight or bisexual – deserves to make their own decision in their own time. Sex can be great when both people like each other and feel ready. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

How to stand up to the pressure

Standing up to peer pressure means deciding whether to go along with everyone else or make your own decisions. Your friends might say things that put you under pressure.

Here are some things you can say back to them to keep them quiet:

They say: "You haven't had sex because no one fancies you."
You say: "I haven't had sex because I'm not afraid of saying no", or "I'm waiting for the right person."

They say: "You'll get dumped if you don't do it soon."
You say: "We like each other for more than just sex."

They say: "We've all done it loads of times."
You say: "And Santa really climbs down the chimney every year."

They say: "You must be gay."
You say: "As if waiting for the right person means anything about my sexuality. Gay and straight people can wait for the right person”, or "So what if I am?"

They say: "You'll get a reputation for being frigid."
You say: "Waiting for the right person makes me smart,
not frigid."

Support on St Helena:

Ask the school nurse for advice on who can help you.

The school nurse offers a drop-in service for young people to come and chat to about any social, emotional and physical health and wellbeing issues.

The mental health team offer counselling for young people who feel their emotional wellbeing is suffering, whatever the reason may be.

You can go to your nurse / doctor for help at any age. Anything you talk about is confidential and will be kept between you and your nurse / doctor unless you or someone else is at risk.


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