Free Walk-in Sexual Health Clinics

Cultural Safety and SRH Week!

Your parts and beyond: Sexual Health, You and Your Community. It concerns of all us!

Sexual and reproductive health is an essential part of our overall health and wellbeing across the lifespan and it means many things to many people.

Join AIDS PEI and a panel of Islanders for National Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Week to discuss and explore what sexual health means to you.

Monday, February 8th
7:00-8:30 PM
Murphy Centre, 200 Richmond Street, Rm 207

For more information please call AIDS PEI at 902-566-2437 or find us on face book at AIDS PEI Community Support Group INC.

Manitoba #EmbraceEveryBody Contest

Take a pic with your response and post it on social media with #EmbraceEveryBody to enter to win a prize. Contest ends February 12. Learn more at

PHAC Webinar: Getting Ready for Sexual Health Awareness Week

The Public Health Agency is pleased to offer this webinar featuring this year’s SRH Awareness Campaign led by Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, in partnership with the Canadian Public Health Association. Join us to learn about SRH Week activities and resources, and how you can get involved. Action Canada is excited to introduce a brand new campaign for 2016: What’s your relationship status? speaking to the important relationship(s) between people and their health service providers. Positive relationships between patients and providers foster better health outcomes and access to services. This webinar will be of interest to those working in STI clinical settings and community based service providers working to prevent and control STIs in their community.


To attend the webinar you need to follow these three steps:

Register in advance here:
Password: SHAW

You will receive an email confirmation with a personalised link for you to join the webinar and dial-in instructions to join the teleconference to hear the presentations. Save that email until the day of the webinar.

On the day of the webinar, click the link on the confirmation email to watch the webinar. To hear the presentations, you must dial in to the teleconference number provided.

Nova Scotia SRH2016 events

Opt’s 3rd Annual SRH Day Breakfast 2016

Every year, Opt identifies a Sexual Health Champion worthy of recognition for outstanding contributions in sexual health. This year we are thrilled to honour Katrina Pacey, Executive Director of Pivot Legal Society. For the last decade, Katrina has guided Pivot’s litigation and campaign strategy, and has been the lead on Pivot’s sex workers’ rights campaigns. As Pivot’s lead counsel on the Bedford case Katrina successfully argued the unconstitutionality of Canada’s prostitution laws at the Supreme Court of Canada. Katrina’s work provides increased awareness of sexual rights and her work on sex workers’ rights is nothing short of inspirational.

We are delighted that CBC’s Man about Town, the Fabulous Fred Lee, will return as our effervescent MC. And we are pleased to present prize winning author, filmmaker and performance artist, Amber Dawn, who will read from her powerful written works.

Delicious breakfast, enticing door prizes, and of course, an organization and cause that you are passionate about—what could be better? Buy your tickets today to join us on February 12th to celebrate Sexual and Reproductive Health Day 2016!

Tickets purchased at the Early Bird rate of $65 are eligible for $20 tax receipts
Tickets purchased at the Regular ticket rate of $75 are eligilbe for $30 tax receipts 

Fabulous sponsors for the 2016 SRH Day Breakfast are:

Womyns’ Ware
British Columbia Teachers’ Federation

Interested in becoming a sponsor for our 2016 SRH Day Breakfast? Click here for our sponsorship package.


Friday, 12 February 2016 from 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM (PST) Add to Calendar


Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Downtown Hotel – 1128 W. Hastings Street Vancouver, BC V6E 4R5 CA – View Map


My 17-year-old friend has just told me she is pregnant and has come to me for advice. Her family is very religious and would shun her if they found out, so she has not told anyone but me (not even the boy who impregnated her). She is scared and does not know what to do. What can I say/do to help the situation?

co-authored by Ryan Croxall

Situations involving unintended pregnancies can be very scary and stressful. In your situation, the first thing you should do is confirm that your friend is actually pregnant. To do this, your friend should immediately seek a health clinic where a urine or blood test can be taken.[1] If confirmed, you should immediately encourage her to speak with a professional, as she may be in shock and may need advice and/or counseling. A family physician would be a good person to seek out. Sexual health centres like those listed here are also able to provide as much information as needed, as well as counseling. Both would work with her to help and support her decision, confidentially. Another person she may want to consider talking with is the potential father. Even if your friend isn’t looking for his opinion in the matter, he still could serve as support for her. Having an accepting companion by her side could provide the positive support needed to make the decision that is right for her.

Good communication in these types of situations should focus on being as supportive as possible. The idea behind supportive communication is to find the best verbal and non-verbal ways to provide psychological and emotional support for your friend.[2] Although every person is different, there are some guiding principles you can follow to help communicate with your friend:

  • focus on your friend’s concern;
  • use positive regard and show personal respect;
  • make sure your friend’s decision is made for her best interests; and
  • make sure you are genuine when speaking to her.[3]

Keep in mind that your friend’s attitude may change throughout your conversation, and you may need to alter your approach. However, if you talk in a sensitive way, your friend should feel more comfortable about the situation. This could ultimately improve her psychological state and help her to make a clear decision that is right for her.

Once you have established an appropriate communication approach, you should explain to your friend the three options she has for her pregnancy. The first option for pregnancy is to care for the fetus with the intention of giving birth and raising the baby. This is the parenting option. With this option comes great responsibility, but it also has the potential to be a very satisfying and positive experience. In choosing this option your friend would be committing to putting in the time and effort to care for the fetus and eventually the child.[4] Parenting will require your friend to make major lifestyle changes, commit much of her time into new responsibilities, increase her expenses, accept the difficulties of employment and school, and will force her to confront her friends and family with this situation.[5] However, parenting also has its advantages that can make this process very satisfying and change her life for the better. These advantages include excitement added into her life, adds another source of love and affection, and gives the option to create a family.[6] Although there is a lot of responsibility and effort put into parenting, the returns have the potential to be extremely rewarding. It must be emphasized that if the parenting option is chosen, your friend should see a physician on a regular basis during pregnancy. This is known as prenatal care, and is extremely important for her health and that of her child.[7]

The second option is adoption. In Canada, the process of adoption varies from province to province but all can be summarized as a legal agreement stating that another family or person will become the baby’s parents instead of the biological parents.[8] This agreement of adoption is done through either public or private agencies.[9] Within these agencies, counselors and adoption professionals would work with your friend to choose the best possible scenario for her and the baby. This process might include picking the adoptive parents, and choosing the openness of the adoption plan, which can range from a fully open adoption to a closed adoption.[10] However, throughout this process the most important thing to do is keep the fetus healthy until birth. For this reason, it is important for the mother carrying the baby to actively follow prenatal care procedures to keep her health stable.[11] Lastly, it is recommended that before a decision is made to pursue adoption, your friend should seek professional advice from an adoption specialist for more detailed information.[12]

The third option for your friend is an induced abortion of the pregnancy. In Canada, the accessibility, and availability of surgical and/or medical abortions varies depending on what province you are in and the location, rural or urban, you reside in.[13] The two different methods offered in Canada to induce abortion are medical (nonsurgical) and surgical. Both are recommended to be performed during the first trimester due to its easier accessibility in Canada.[14] There is no time limit for an abortion in Canada. Currently, surgical abortion is more widely available in Canada than medical abortion.[15] However, with Health Canada’s recent approval of the medical abortion drug Mifegymiso (also known as Mifepristone and RU-486), the availability of this option may increase. A medical abortion uses drugs to induce abortion, and is currently only offered until the 7th or 8th week of pregnancy. The drugs essentially induce a miscarriage at home so the body can pass the uterine contents.[16] Surgical abortion on the other hand is performed by a health care provider. The placental tissue and embryo are surgically removed from the women’s uterus, and in Canada is generally only performed up to about 24 weeks into pregnancy.[17]

If your friend is considering abortion as an option, it is highly recommended that she contact Action Canada’s Access Line (1-888-642-2725). Here she will be able to get a referral to the nearest point of service, as well as get accurate information if she has any more questions. It is also recommended that if abortion is being considered, to make a decision soon. Although there is no legal time limit for an abortion in Canada, first trimester abortions are more easily accessed in Canada and are a much simpler process.

The last thing you can do to help out the situation is to make sure she is the one making the decision that is right for her. Whether you or anyone else may agree with her decision or not, you need to stay unbiased and must not pressure her into anything. Some common questions she should ask herself before making a decision include:[18]

  • What are my own thoughts and feelings about each option?
  • What stage of my life am I at right now?
  • Am I responsible enough and have the ability to care for another’s needs?
  • Am I financially ready and able to care for another’s needs?
  • Is anyone pressuring me into making a decision? This is my decision.
  • Do I have support around me?

Hopefully, these questions and your support will help her make the decision that is right for her.

[1] Moss, D., Snyder, M., & Lin, L. (2015). Options for women with unintended pregnancy. American Family Physician, 91(8), 544-549.

[2] Berger, C.R. (2014). Interpersonal communication. In S.M. Jones & G.D. Bodie (Ed), Supportive Communication (pp. 371-394). Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter GmbH.

[3] Priebe, S., Dimic, S., Wildgrube, C., Jankovic, J., Cushing, A., & McCabe, R. (2011). Good communication in psychiatry – a conceptual review. European Psychiatry, 26, 403-407.

[4] Holden, G. (2010). Parenting: A dynamic perspective. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc.

[5] Holden, G. (2010). Parenting: A dynamic perspective. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc.

[6] Holden, G. (2010). Parenting: A dynamic perspective. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc.

[7] (2012), Unplanned pregnancy: What should I do?. Journal of Midwifery &     Women’s Health, 57: 543–544. doi: 10.1111/j.1542-2011.2012.00216.x

[8] (2012), Unplanned pregnancy: What should I do?. Journal of Midwifery &     Women’s Health, 57: 543–544. doi: 10.1111/j.1542-2011.2012.00216.x

[9] Moss, D., Snyder, M., & Lin, L. (2015). Options for women with unintended pregnancy. American Family Physician, 91(8), 544-549.

[10] Sobol, M., & Daly, K. (1995). Adoption practice in Canada: Emerging trends and challenges. Child Welfare, 74(3), p.655.

[11] (2012), Unplanned pregnancy: What should I do?. Journal of Midwifery &     Women’s Health, 57: 543–544. doi: 10.1111/j.1542-2011.2012.00216.x

[12] (2012), Unplanned pregnancy: What should I do?. Journal of Midwifery &     Women’s Health, 57: 543–544. doi: 10.1111/j.1542-2011.2012.00216.x

[13] Vogel, L. (2015). Abortion access grim in English Canada. Journal of Canadian Medical Association, 187(1), 17-17.

[14] Moss, D., Snyder, M., & Lin, L. (2015). Options for women with unintended pregnancy. American Family Physician, 91(8), 544-549.

[15] Vogel, L. (2015). Abortion access grim in English Canada. Journal of Canadian Medical Association, 187(1), 17-17.

[16] Dunn, S., & Cook, R. (2014). Medical abortion in Canada: Behind the times. Journal of Canadian Medical Association, 186(1), 13-14.

[17] Flett, G., & Templeton, A. (2002). Surgical abortion. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 16(2), 247-261.

[18] (2012), Unplanned pregnancy: What should I do?. Journal of Midwifery &     Women’s Health, 57: 543–544. doi: 10.1111/j.1542-2011.2012.00216.x

For the past six months, my partner has had trouble maintaining an erection. Although we’re both in our late 20s, is it possible that he might have erectile dysfunction? What can I do to help us work through this problem?

co-authored by Lianna Hrycyk

Despite what the media might lead you to believe, erection problems are not exclusive to older men. On the contrary, around 7% of American men under the age of 30 report erectile difficulties. Hearing you say, “What can I do to help us work through this problem” is a good sign. Psychologists recommend looking at erection problems as a shared sexual concern, as they can affect both partners’ well being. Erectile dysfunction is clinically diagnosed as the constant inability to develop or maintain an erection for the duration of sexual intercourse. Erectile dysfunction can be a red flag for another serious medical problem, such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease. Your first step is to encourage your partner to visit his family doctor, in order to rule out medical complications. You may offer to accompany him to the clinic, so his doctor can conduct a thorough assessment of the various factors surrounding your partner’s erection difficulties.

Although only a doctor can make a diagnosis, remember that your partner’s difficulty maintaining an erection doesn’t automatically equal erectile dysfunction. Do you know if your partner gets erections while masturbating or sleeping? If so, then your partner isn’t necessarily unable to have an erection, but rather lacks erections in certain situations. Sex therapists warn against the medicalization of erection difficulties, where all deviations from the norm are considered “dysfunctional”. As famous sexologist Alfred Kinsey wisely wrote, “There is nothing more characteristic of sexual response than the fact that it is not the same in any two individuals”. The question then stops being, “Is this normal?” and becomes, “Is this a problem for you and your partner”[1].

It is important not to blame your partner; similarly, you should not blame yourself. It might also be tempting to comfort your partner by downplaying the impact his erectile difficulties have on your relationship. Instead, share your concerns openly with one another. For example, how has this affected your relationship? Are you both interested in making changes? Questions like these will increase your understanding of each other’s perspective on the issue.

Inability to have intercourse does not have to translate into a loss of sexual pleasure or intimacy. This brings us to challenge two prevailing myths: 1) that men can have erections whenever they want, and 2) that “sex” means sexual intercourse. Sex in our society focuses on male performance, in which the misconception is embedded that an erection is essential for satisfaction. This puts an incredible amount of pressure on men to be hard whenever the opportunity for sex presents itself. In reality, erections typically arise after sexual stimulation. Even more, remember that sex is more than just another word for sexual intercourse. Think of the purpose of sex as providing sexual pleasure. There are many other ways of being sexually intimate that do not require an erection. You and your partner may be surprised to learn that neither erection nor ejaculation is required for male orgasm. Once couples realize that pleasure is not dependent on erections or even orgasms, although these can be enjoyable when they do happen, partners are likely to have more frequent and better sex, according to therapist Bernie Zilbergeld.[2] Instead of thinking of touching and other sexual acts as “foreplay” to intercourse, engage in sex play for the pleasure it brings in itself. You might even end up enjoying a more diverse sex life.

Many sex therapists agree that talking about sex leads to better sex! Good communication is characterized by self-disclosure (partners openly sharing their personal feelings and thoughts), and partner responsiveness (partners showing understanding by acting in response to what their partners have shared). Ask your partner if he would like you to help him get in “the mood” and bring him pleasure. You can ask him if he is comfortable sharing his sexual fantasies with you, and don’t forget to share yours as well. Some couples find it helpful to make a list alone ahead of time. Either way, talking about your desires, preferences, and feelings can be exciting and arousing. If you are both willing, you can explore ways of turning each other on without the pressure of needing an erection. If you need some ideas to get you started, consider:

  • Kissing and hugging while one person stimulates the other with his or her hands or mouth
  • Bathing one another sensuously
  • One partner masturbating while the other kisses and touches the other
  • Simultaneously stimulating each other orally
  • Laying on your sides and looking at each other while masturbating

Overall, the most important thing is for you to talk to your partner openly and honestly. Then, you’ll be able to discuss a realistic plan together that will allow both of you to satisfy your sexual desires.

[1] Zilbergeld, Bernie. (1999) The New Male Sexuality. Revised edition. New York, New York: Bantam Books.

[2] Zilbergeld, Bernie. (1999) The New Male Sexuality. Revised edition. New York, New York: Bantam Books.