Sunday, July 10, 2011

Taking care of your sexual health

Taking care of your sexual health
It's important to take care of your sexual health and, if you have children, evidence shows that it's good to talk about sex and relationships. Young people who talk openly about sex with their parents tend to delay having sex and are more likely to use contraception when they do.

Both men and women need to look after their sexual health and take time to understand the issues that surround contraception and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). For instance there are some STIs, such as Chlamydia, that you could be carrying without having any symptoms. This infection can affect fertility, so it's important to make use of the sexual health services available for free on the NHS.

To find out more, the NHS Direct website has a frequently asked questions page that covers issues from contraception and smear tests, to STIs and sex therapy.

You can also talk to your doctor or nurse at your GP surgery or Family Planning Clinic. Surgeries often hold family planning sessions or clinics for young people - both are aimed at creating an atmosphere where people can talk openly about sex and relationship issues.

Talking about sex with your children

Talking about sex with your children
The best way to start talking about sex is to:

* start when your child is small, encourage them to ask questions and answer them simply
* make talking about sex a part of everyday life, not just a one-off talk and keep the conversation going as they get older
* try to introduce the topic before your child reaches puberty, waiting until then can make it awkward
* ask your child what they think about different situations to find out how much they know already - you can then give them answers and advice that they can understand
* use everyday media to start conversations - soaps, adverts, TV programmes, magazines - then you can talk about other people which is sometimes easier to start with
* use books, leaflets and websites (including those listed below) if you need information or ideas for how to start talking
* recognise that, as your child grows, they need privacy and may not always want to talk to you
* talk about the importance of considering the feelings of others in relationships, and not just the biology
* try to be open-minded and keep talking, even if you are shocked by your teenager's attitudes and values
* talk to other parents about how they answer difficult questions and discuss difficult issues


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