What is safe sex?
Safe sex means using contraception to make sure 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.
You can also talk to ChildLine about anything that’s on your mind. This could be sex, relationships, contraception, pregnancy or STIs. If you don’t use the phone, you can contact them by online chat or email.
What’s an STI?
STI is a short way of saying ‘sexually transmitted infection’. STIs are diseases passed on through bodily fluids like saliva, 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.
Use a condom every time you have sex – this is the best protection we have.
The Scottish Deaf Youth Association has some great info in British Sign Language (BSL) and English about different kinds of STIs, including chlamydia, genital warts, HIV and AIDS and hepatitis B.
If you think you might have an STI, or if you just want to make sure you don’t, you can have a check – often called a sexual health screen – with your doctor or at a sexual health clinic.
What are the different kinds of contraception?
If you want to know more about different kinds of contraception you or your partner could use, visit The Scottish Deaf Youth Association for great info in BSL and English about condoms, contraceptive patches, injections, implants and pills.
Once you’ve looked at the different contraception options that are available, Brook has a great tool to help you think about which one is right for you.
Don’t forget that you can get free condoms from lots of places, like sexual health clinics. Check NHS Choices to find where you can get free condoms near you. You can also get free condoms through the C-Card Scheme.
If you have had unprotected sex (not using any contraception), or if your contraception didn’t work (for example if a condom broke), there are other ways you can avoid getting pregnant.
There are contraceptives that can be used after having sex, and these 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.
Need some more help?
Would you like more help or do you want to ask a question? Send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).