Sex and Relationships
Many young people have questions or concerns about sex and relationships – so if you feel like this it's important to know that you are not alone! It may be that you want to
- know more about something to do with how your body works
- know more about contraception
- talk to some one about when is the right time to start a sexual relationship
- talk to some one about your feelings for some one who is the same sex as you
No matter what the question or concern, there are some important things that you need to know.
You have a right to information about sex & relationships which is up-to-date and factual
You can talk to your social worker or carer about sex & relationships if you want to.
It's important to remember that talking about sex can be a bit awkward for both young people and adults. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't try if you need to or want to. Your social worker and carers should know about a document called ‘A Guide for talking to Children and Young People who are Looked After about Sex and Relationships'. This is Norfolk Children's Services way of making sure that every one knows exactly what they should be talking about with young people.
Other places you can get information from
If you don't feel happy talking to your worker or carer just yet or you think they won't be able to help then have a look at the websites at the end of this section. Or you could ring one of these helplines for free advice and information on growing up and sexual matters:
- Sexwise - Freephone (0800) 282930 Every day, 7am-12midnight
- FPA - 020 7837 4044
- London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard (0207) 8377324, 24 hour helpline.
If you would rather talk to some one locally (other than your worker or carer) then you have a number of choices.
You could talk to:
- your own Doctor or any GP in your surgery
- a Health Advisor from a Genito-Urinary Medicine Clinic (GUM)
- a Practice Nurse from your Doctor's Surgery
- someone from a Family Planning Clinic
- or a School Health Advisor
All of these services are confidential, so they will not tell your carer or worker what you say to them even if you are under 16.
If the worker you talk to is worried about your safety (or some one else's safety) because of something you tell them, you need to know that they may share their concerns with other workers. It is highly unlikely that this would happen in most cases and nothing should be passed on to some one else before it has been discussed with you.
If you have sex without using any contraception or you think your contraception might not have worked then there are two types of emergency contraception you can use. They are both free!
Emergency pills should be started as soon as possible and MUST be started within 3 days (72 hours) of having unprotected sex. It may also be possible to be fitted with an IUD within 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex. Both are available from your GP or a Family Planning Clinic.
Emergency pills are also available through A&E hospital departments at:
- James Paget Hospital, Gt Yarmouth
- Norfolk & Norwich Hospital, Norwich
- Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn
- Cromer & District Hospital
Most chemists in Norfolk can provide the emergency pill over the counter for about £20 to over 16's. If they can't they must direct people to a chemist which does.
Think you might be pregnant
If your period is late it is important that you do a pregnancy test as soon as possible. You can have a free test done at:
- a family planning clinic
- MAP (Mancroft Advice Project) Telephone: 01603 766994
- your doctor's
You can also buy a kit from a chemist to use at home. If you live in a residential unit or with carers ask either your key worker or carer if they have a kit you could use already. If they don't they should buy one for you.
If you use a home testing kit it's important to get the result confirmed by your doctor or at a clinic as quickly as possible, particularly if it's positive! If you are pregnant there will be lots of things you will need to think about. Ask your worker or carer to get hold of a book called ‘Time to decide' which is a self-help guide written especially for young women in care. This book will help you to think about what to do next. The National Children's Bureau publishes it.
Sexually transmitted infections (STI's)
If you're having sex then you also need to know about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI's). If you don't take the proper precautions (using a condom!) when you're having sex, then you could get an STI.
The most common symptoms in both men and women are:
- Unusual discharge of liquid from vagina or penis – it could be thick, or watery, cloudy, white or yellow. It might be smelly.
- Pain or burning when you urinate.
- Urinating more than usual.
- Itching, rashes, lumps, ulcers, sores or blisters on or around the genitals.
- Pain in the genitals.
- Pain during sex.
Just to make the whole thing even harder, some STI's have no symptoms at all, so you might not even know that you've come into contact with one! It might also surprise you to know that there are more than 25 STI's and you can catch some of them without even having ‘full sex'.
Some of the most common ones are:
- Genital Warts
- Gonorrhea (“clap”, “drip”, “sting”)
Less common (but not rare) ones are:
- Pubic Lice (“crabs”)
- Scabies (“itch”)
- Hepatitis B
- Syphilis (“pox”)s
- HIV (the virus that causes AIDS)
The only way to find out for sure if you have an STI is to go to your local Genito-Urinary Medicine Clinic (GUM) or a doctor. You can find a list of the local GUM clinics at the bottom of this section. These are specialist clinics, which offer advice and information about STI's. You can also be tested and treated for STI's at a GUM Clinic.
If you have got an STI it's really important that you let your sexual partners know so that they can get themselves checked out too. If you can't face doing this yourself then the Health Advisor from the GUM can do this for you. They can send out a contact slip to the person or people you have had sex with, asking them to go and see their doctor or visit their local GUM. Your name will NOT be on the contact slip and neither will the name of the STI you have. So unless YOU tell them there is no way they could find out who had given their name to a GUM Health Advisor.
One final thing to think about...
If you don't get STI's treated they don't just go away!
Some of them can even cause permanent damage to your health or your partner's health. This could be painful and swollen testicles, penis or joints or pelvic pain and damage to the Fallopian tubes in women. The fertility (ability to have children) of both men and women can be affected.
If you need more information about any of the things we have touched upon then have a look at the following websites, which should contain every thing you will ever need to know!
(These websites have not been endorsed by Norfolk Children's Services. Please exercise caution when browsing the World Wide Web.)
If it's difficult to get to a Family Planning or GUM clinic because of opening times or poor transport, there is no reason why your carer or worker shouldn't take you if you want to go. Just ask them, you have a right to access these service if you need them.
Family Planning Clinics
(You may need to book appointments for some places, so please ring first)
- Central Family Planning Clinic
2-4 Brunswick Road, Norwich, NR1 3SR
TEL: 01603 287345 / 287346
- Great Yarmouth Family Planning Clinic
Greyfriars Clinic, Greyfriars Way, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
TEL: 01493 331914
- Kings Lynn Contraception and Sexual Health Service
St James, Exton's Road, King's Lynn, Norfolk, PE30 5NU
TEL: 01553 816382
- Downham Market Family Planning, Contraception and Sexual Health
Downham Health Centre, Paradise Road, Downham Market, Norfolk, PE38 9JE
TEL 01366 389289
Genito urinary medicine clinics
(You may need to book appointments for some places, so please ring first)
- Grove Clinic
Dept of Genito Urinary Medicine, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Colney Lane, Norwich, NR4 7UJ
TEL: 01603 286307 (routine appointments)
TEL: 01603 287608 (advice/urgent appointments)
- Department of Genito Urinary Medicine
Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gayton Road, King's Lynn, Norfolk, PE30 4ET
TEL: 01553 613766
- The Bure Clinic
James Paget Healthcare Trust, Lowestoft Road, Gorleston, Great Yarmouth, NR31 6LA
TEL: 01493 452747
This part of the site is currently being updated by the BLAH group. Please come back soon !