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Safe sex

Health & wellbeing Sex, relationships & your body

Safe sex

Health & wellbeing Sex, relationships & your body

View article in BSL

What does safe sex mean?

Safe sex means using contraception so you don’t get pregnant or catch any sexually transmitted infections (STIs). There are many different types of contraception to choose from. This page has lots of info about contraceptives and STIs so you can be confident about enjoying safe sex.

Whether you’re a boy or a girl, you are responsible for your own sexual health, including avoiding STIs and unwanted pregnancy. It’s important that you also take responsibility for your partner’s wellbeing too. 

What’s an STI?

STI is a short way of saying ‘sexually transmitted infection’. STIs are diseases passed on through bodily fluids like saliva and blood, and sexual fluids like sperm. You get an STI by having sex (including oral sex) with someone who’s infected.

There are lots of different types of STIs, and some don’t have any symptoms (signs), so you or your partner might have one but not know anything about it. STIs are not very nice and they can cause lasting damage. But most are treatable, and you can stop yourself from getting one.

What are the different kinds of contraception?

Once you’ve looked at the different contraception options that are available, Brook has a great tool to help you work out which one is right for you.
Don’t forget that you can get free condoms from lots of places, like sexual health clinics. Check out NHS Choices to find out where you can get free condoms near you. You can also get free condoms and lubrication through the C-Card Scheme.


Emergency contraception

If you have had unprotected sex (you didn’t use any contraception), or if your contraception didn’t work (for example, the condom broke), there are still other ways to avoid getting pregnant.

There are contraceptives you can use after having sex, but they should only be used in emergencies. They don’t work as well as other contraceptives and they don’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

If you need emergency contraception it’s really important that you use it as soon as you can after having sex. A girl can take the Morning After Pill up to three days (or 72 hours) afterwards, or have an IUD fitted up to five days afterwards, to stop herself becoming pregnant.

The Morning After Pill is the most common emergency contraception. You can get it free from a doctor or nurse, family planning clinics, sexual health clinics, some youth centres, and GUM clinics. You can also buy it from a pharmacy for around £25. Some pharmacies offer it for free if you are aged 16–25 but this depends on the area of the country you live in. Find out more about the Morning After Pill here.

Don’t forget, if you have had unprotected sex, it’s worth you and your partner getting your sexual health checked at a clinic to make sure you haven’t caught any STIs

If it’s over five days since you had unprotected sex, you should still see your GP or family planning clinic to discuss your options. If you think you, or your partner, may be pregnant, get some advice here.

Would you like more help or do you want to ask a question?

Send us an email in confidence at youngmember@ndcs.org.uk. 

Deaf Zone is always there to help you if you need them. You can have a 1-2-1 chat or send an email to a counsellor at Deaf Zone, or use SignVideo.

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