Relationships & Sexual Health

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Relationships and sex can be the source of both comfort and anxiety in our lives. Finding out more about these two topics can help you to feel more in control. It can also help with the decisions you may be faced with.

Topics on this page include:

> Sex and sexual health
> Sexuality
> Relationships
> Puberty
> Pregnancy and parenthood
> Links

Sex and sexual health

Having sex isn't just about your body. Sex can also affect you emotionally. 

Sex can also bring up lots of questions about stuff like what feels good and what's safe. Being sexually active also exposes you to real risks like pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like herpes, chlamydia and HIV.

If you're thinking about becoming sexually active, or even if you already are, you can get more information about having sex (and how to have it safely) from these places:

  • Family Planning Victoria (new window) has heaps of information about contraception, STIs, pregnancy and the laws around abortion.
  • Reach Out's Sex pages (new window) cover topics like having sex for the first time and how to work out if you're ready.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Sexually transmissible infections are common all around the world. They may be caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. Sexually transmissible infections include chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhoea, syphilis, genital herpes, scabies, pubic lice (crabs), hepatitis and HIV (the virus that causes AIDS).

If you are sexually active, you can get an STI – even if you practice safe sex most of the time. Not all STIs have obvious symptoms, so there is a chance that you or your partner could have an STI without knowing it. Most STIs are curable and all are treatable. But if left untreated, STIs can have long term effects on your body.

If sexually active, it’s important to get an STI test at least once a year, especially if you notice symptoms after having unsafe sex; or when you start a new relationship. In most cases, a simple blood or urine sample is all that's needed. Condoms are the easiest, and most effective way, to protect yourself from STIs.

For more info see the Better Health Channel's page on sexually transmitted infections.

Sexual assault and abuse

Sexual assault or abuse can affect people - guys and girls - in lots of ways. If you or someone you know needs help or someone to talk to, you can phone Lifeline on 131 114 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 to find out what you can do.

For more information about where you can get help, check out our Sexual assault page.

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Sexuality

Some people are strongly aware of and confident about their feelings and attractions towards other people. Other people are not so sure how they feel.

Many people identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. People in these circumstances may experience problems like being rejected by peers or friends, or not having their sexuality accepted by their parents. They may feel isolated or depressed. 

If you're in this situation, it's important to understand your rights so you can find more information, support and ways to meet others who feel like you. You'll find starting points at Reach Out!'s pages about: 

For more about same-sex attraction, including links to support organisations, check out our Same-sex attraction page.

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Relationships

Relationships are an important part of who we are and how we think about ourselves, whether you're talking about friendships or romantic relationships.

Sometimes our relationships change because of decisions we make. Sometimes they change because of things outside our control. Some changes keep a relationship interesting and fun, but other changes can bring stress or conflict.

Our relationships can be a source of happiness, but they can also cause anxiety and stress. Some relationships can even become unsafe.

There are heaps of resources out there to help you deal with problems or issues in your own relationships. They can even put you in touch with people you can talk to - people your own age, or professional support workers - about your concerns.

  • Reach Out's Sex and Relationships pages (new window) let young people tell their own stories. They also have downloadable fact sheets that break things down and offer good advice.
  • The Lookout (new window) has information about domestic and family violence support available across Victoria.
  • iMatter (new window) is an app that can identify warning signs of abuse and provide support for people experiencing abusive relationships - it's on the iTunes store (new window) and Google Play (new window) 
  • mindhealthconnect's domestic violence page (new window) has some information on family and relationship violence, and links to organisations you can turn to for help.

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Puberty

Puberty can feel like an alarm clock going off in your body, switching on your sexuality and a heap of physical, mental and emotional changes that often cause confusion and even anxiety. The important thing to remember is that everyone goes through pretty much the same thing sooner or later.

It's good to try to understand puberty and the changes going on in your body. If you can, try talking to someone you trust about the changes you're experiencing - a family member, a friend, a counsellor at school or even your doctor.

More information about puberty can be found at:

  • the Better Health Channel's page on puberty (new window), with a list of facts and resources
  • healthdirect's page on puberty (new window), featuring links to specific information for boys and girls. 

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Pregnancy and parenthood

An unplanned pregnancy can be a shock or a surprise. Only you can figure out if you're ready to be a parent, but there's lots of information out there to help you make your decision.

Becoming a parent is a massive life change, especially if you're young. raisingchildren.net.au has advice about being a teenage parent (new window) and what help is available (new window). It also has lots of general advice about pregnancy and tips for raising kids from newborns to teenagers.

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Links

Reach Out!
Up-front articles on relationships, including personal stories and fact sheets about sex, coming out, managing relationships and more.

Better Health Channel - Sexual Health
Information about a broad range of sex, sexuality and sexual health topics.

The Lookout
Information about domestic and family violence support available across Victoria.

Family Planning Victoria
Straightforward information about issues such as choosing a doctor, relationships, sex and laws about pregnancy.

Pregnancy Counselling Australia
Information and advice about pregnancy - call the 24-hour helpline on 1300 RESPECT.

Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault
Providing services to people who have experienced sexual assault, as well as their families, partners and friends.

 

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