Sexual Health Week 2017

Sexual Health Week begins on 11 September, and this year the focus is on talking about pornography and the effect it can have on sex and relationships in young people.

Watching porn from a young age can result in a skewed image of what sex and healthy relationships look like. Unprotected sex in porn can send the message that condoms are unnecessary barriers to pleasure, all the while putting performers at risk of contracting a sexual transmitted infections. If these behaviours are repeated in real life, it can significantly increase the risk of unwanted pregnancies and infections.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

We want to help protect everyone from STIs. Infections are passed from one person to another through unprotected sex or genital contact and anyone, of any age, who is sexually active can contract an STI. To protect yourself, it’s important to use condoms. It’s also a good idea to be tested for STIs – we understand that this can be a worrying thing to do but it’s better to know, not only for yourself but also for your partner. If your test turns out to be positive, Spectrum can support you with advice, treatment if necessary and refer you to other specialists.

If you think you may have a sexually transmitted infection, please contact us to book an appointment

There are several different sexually transmitted infections that can contracted during sex, including chlamydia and gonorrhoea. For more information on our local sexual health services, you can visit the SH:ARP website by clicking here.

Yorkshire MESMAC is one of the oldest and largest sexual health organisations in the country. They offer a range of services to various communities including men who have sex with men, BME people, people misusing drugs, sex workers and LGB&T young people and adults. With offices across Yorkshire, MESMAC services include free, rapid and confidential HIV testing, condoms, counselling and a whole host of useful information. Click here to visit their website.

Body Image, Consent and Communications

As well as the health and medical problems which can result from young people copying what they see in porn, a number of personal and relationship issues can also be affected.

There is no such thing as the ‘perfect body’, and the images we see in the media are often enhanced. The desire to look like the performers they see on screen can lead young people to strive for unrealistic and unattainable standards for their own bodies. These distorted ideals can in turn result in psychological issues, low self-esteem and unrealistic expectations around what “normal” sex can be like for both men and women.

Sexting is when someone shares sexual, naked or semi-naked images or videos of themselves or others, or sends sexually explicit messages via digital communications tools such as email, text messages, or other messaging apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp.

They can be sent using mobiles, tablets, smartphones or laptops – any device that allows you to share media and messages. Sexting can be seen as harmless, but creating or sharing explicit images of a child is illegal, even if the person doing it is a child themselves. Although sexting can be a way for a young person to explore their sexuality, it can also lead to negative consequences like blackmail, bullying, unwanted attention and emotional problems. Once a picture has been sent, it is then out of the sender’s control and can be shared further and to a wider audience than was initially intended. The NSPCC has a number of resources available on the subject of sexting and keeping children safe – click here to visit their page.

For more information on Sexual Health Week 2017, visit the Family Planning Authority website.

Healthy Relationships

Here are some factors in a healthy relationship:

• They tell you that you’re really great looking
• You can be yourself and you don’t have to pretend you’re someone you’re not
• You feel really good with them
• They make you feel really wanted

• They like your family
• When you are stressed out they listen and support you

Here are some factors in an unhealthy relationship:

• You know they’re not the partner you want but you think you can change them
• You stay with them because it’s better than being alone
• Getting physical together is the most important thing
• They make the decisions about where to go and what to do
• When you are with them you end up arguing all the time
• They’re always breaking up and you always have to make up again – and it’s always your fault
• They put you down and make fun of you
• You get embarrassed when you hang out in public
• You haven’t got time for anything or anyone else
• When you’re with their friends they ignore you or humiliate you
• You couldn’t talk about condoms or contraception, it would be too embarrassing
• They really get jealous when they see you talking to other people
• They say bad things about your family
• They tell you what to do and what to wear
• They tell people bad things about you that aren’t true – like how and when you have sex

Keep up to date with everything going on during Sexual Health Week on Twitter using the #SHW17 hashtag, or by following @SpectrumSharp and @FPACharity.