Decisions around sex are often made spontaneously (in the heat of the moment). A lot of people forget to take the time to think about their sexual health plan. This involves answering important questions like “what types of sexual activities, if any, am I comfortable with for myself?” or “in what context (casual, committed, marital) do I want to have sex? and “Am I prepared and able to take appropriate steps to reduce the risk of, or address STBBIs and/or unintended pregnancy?”
Taking the time to map out what you want/don’t want out of your sex life and how you plan to take care of your sexual health and well-being can be a positive tool to add to your arsenal.
The importance of taking care of your sexual health and well-being is true for people of any age, including young people. That’s why broadly based sexual health education (sex ed) should include skills to relate information about your personal values and create a personal sexual health plan. For more information, click here to read the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Canadian Guidelines for Sexual Health Education
There is no right or wrong way to create an individualized sexual health plan that suits you and reflects your values and personal circumstances. Some prefer to write it down, some like to chat about it with people they trust, some like to keep it in their head. It’s up to you!
Here’s a sampling of questions that might be helpful in starting to think about your sexual health plan:
1. At this point in my life, engaging in sexual activity with a partner(s) is a good decision for me.
Yes___ No___ Maybe____
Key factors to consider:
a. How ready I feel
b. Circumstances and context
c. My values, including religious values if relevant
d. My parents’/guardians’ values if relevant
e. Do I have the information and resources necessary to protect myself from or treat an STI? To prevent pregnancy if I don’t want to be pregnant? If not, where could I access this information and/or those resources?
f. Do I know what I’d do if I got pregnant?
2. At this point in my life, I feel comfortable having sex in the context of:
a. Casual relationships
c. A monogamous relationship
d. A non-monogamous relationship
3. At this point in my life I’m comfortable with:
a. Not engaging in any partnered sexual activity
b. Touching (e.g. heavy petting, mutual masturbation, etc.)
c. Oral sex (giving and/or receiving)
d. Vaginal sex
e. Anal sex
4. I believe that I have the information and resources necessary to plan how to:
a. Talk to a partner about the importance of safer sex, like using condoms
b. Use condoms every time I have sex
c. Take the necessary steps to have safer sex if I wish to have condomless sex with a trusted partner (i.e. to discuss both partners getting tested and agreeing to be monogamous)
d. Make sure I have access to and can use effective birth control or contraception if I have vaginal sex
e. Get tested for an STI, and get treatment if necessary
f. Get tested for pregnancy if necessary
g. Deal with an unintended pregnancy
My sexual health plan for the next year is to:
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