Ok, so you’re at that stage. As long as you feel ready and things feel right, there’s nothing to worry about. We’ve gathered some tips to help you stay sexually healthy, so you can ooze confidence and focus on other things. Come on, there’s no need to blush!

Only have sex when you’re ready, and don’t allow yourself to be rushed into anything you’re unsure of.

If you’re in a new relationship, make sure you and your partner both have a sexual health screening before you begin any sexual activities together.  Annual smear tests are also recommended for women aged 25 and up, and are free through the NHS.

Condom

Use a condom! This is an obvious one, but it can still go overlooked in the heat of the moment. Don’t rely on the guy to buy them – it’s as much your concern as it is his. Using condoms not only helps you avoid getting pregnant, but it stops the spread of many sexually transmitted diseases.

Use your preferred choice of contraception, whether it’s the birth control pill, contraceptive implant, or contraceptive injection.

The following are all STIs: Chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital warts, genital herpes, syphilis, and pubic lice. You can also catch HIV through unprotected sex.

If you have had unprotected sex and are worried about pregnancy, you can take emergency contraception or you can have the intrauterine device implanted in you.

Here’s a condensed low-down of symptoms you should be aware of:

Chlamydia and gonorrhea:

Roughly 80% of girls who have chlamydia have no symptoms at all, so regular health check-ups are advised. However, you can experience pain in your lower abdomen, discomfort when urinating, and unusual discharge from your penis or vagina.

Genital herpes:

Flu-like symptoms and sore blisters around mouth or genital area.

Genital warts:

Bumps around the genitals.

Pubic lice:

Genital area will become itchy. You may find black specks in your underwear, and white specs in your pubic hair.

Syphilis:

Rashes, flu-like symptoms and painless blisters around genital area.

If you experience any symptoms or would like more information, contact your local health centre.