Dr. Phelan By General Practitioner Published:

Technology has transformed the way that people, particularly young people, learn about and participate in sexual relationships and it poses new challenges that healthcare professionals face in encouraging a healthy and responsible attitude towards sex.

Through easy online access to a vast array of explicit material, today’s young people probably feel that they know more about sex than any other generation. However, there is evidence that they may not be taking the precautions that they should, as young people are more likely to be diagnosed with an STI than older age groups.

Teaching children about all aspects of love, dating and sex is important – don’t just talk about the mechanics. While sex education isn’t compulsory at school, the vast majority of young people do receive some form of sex education.

Teach them that they are in control, that it is their body and they should never do anything they don’t feel happy with or don’t want to. Give them the confidence to make their own decisions.

Explain that unprotected sex can lead to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancy.

Sexually transmitted infections can be passed through anal, oral or vaginal sex. They are extremely common and many people often don’t know they have them. Condoms are the only method of contraception that protect against both pregnancy and STIs.

Even if you use condoms it is important to get tested regularly. It’s usually quick, painless and can be free at some sexual health clinics.

Emergency contraception is available, but that doesn’t protect against STIs. Should you, a family member or someone you know contract an STI, there are treatments available. So talk to your local or online doctor about your options and get tested regularly.