Tough Talks: Who Can I Talk to About My Sexual & Intimate Health?
If you’re an Intimina blog reader, then congratulations! You’ve been taking some important steps to become more informed about your body. Not to toot our own horn (though we have a lot of advice about that activity!) but we work really hard on our blog. Our writers do a lot research, and we have some amazing medical professionals to advise us.
But as much as our blog is a great resource for people like you, the internet can’t cover everything you need to know about your body. Because every body is a little bit different. And when you feel like your body is behaving a little extra different, it can be hard to know who you can talk to. But you’re not alone—there are people you can talk to about your first period, or sex, or….anything!.
Even when it seems too embarrassing, it’s important to have someone you can talk to about your sexual and intimate health. Here are a few of the people you might want to turn to!
A Parent, Guardian, or Other Cool, Trusted Family Member
It can all seem quite big and scary to try to deal with on your own. If you have a parent or guardian you can talk to safely, that’s great! More and more people are learning about the importance of talking to their children early and often about sexual health.
But not everyone has that support in their life. And that’s okay. It doesn’t need to be just your mom that you go to with questions about your body or sex. You can ask other trusted relatives, like an aunt, cousin, or cool older sibling.
We do just suggest that you triple check what you’ve been told with trusted medical sources, like The Mayo Clinic, a government website like the National Institute of Health, or Go Ask Alice! from Columbia University.
It’s not that the person you’re asking is automatically untrustworthy, but sometimes they might be working with incorrect information that someone told them when they were young!
Your primary healthcare provider is the best person to ask if you have concerns about something being seriously wrong. If you’ve had the same doctor all your life, it can somehow feel extra embarrassing asking the same person who gave you stickers during vaccinations questions about sex or menstruation. But, that just means you have someone who knows your health history very well.
Doctors have heard everything over the course of their careers, so chances are your question about puberty or sex won’t shock them.
Healthcare providers also used what’s known as a ‘doorknob question.’ This is when a patient comes in for one reason, and either reveals some critical information or asks about an entirely different issue as they’re leaving the room. (With their door on the handle.) There isn’t anything ‘wrong’ with that per se, but it can give a doctor limited time to address your concern if they have many appointments.
This article about advocating yourself confidently in medical settings might be handy to read before you get to the office!
If you’re concerned about your doctor telling you parents, please investigate what the laws are in your area. In the United States, there are laws protecting your confidentiality…but this can depend somewhat on what state you’re in. You may be able to ask your doctor’s office for a referral to a gynecologist without telling them specifically why you’d like the referral.
Your Local Sexual Health or Public Health Authority
If you feel like you can’t talk to your doctor, there are other resources in your area. There may be a government or non-profit group that’s able to help you. For example, Planned Parenthood isn’t just a resource for terminating a pregnancy. They can give you all sorts of other medical advice about everything from birth control to STI tests.
There are often also toll-free numbers or ‘helplines’ for organizations that deal with specific issues. All you have to do is search online for things like toll-free number or help services. You’ll find a phone number (or sometimes online chat) that can help you find support for teen sexual health, unplanned pregnancy or intimate partner abuse.
Do take care and do lots of poking around on the websites you do find. Try searching for the organization name “ +review” or on Reddit to see what experiences other people have had. Unfortunately, some groups can misrepresent themselves.
A ‘pregnancy crisis center’ not give you full pros and cons of your options during an unplanned pregnancy, or tell you inaccurate information about termination or birth control.
Similarly, there may be centers who try to discourage you from exploring non-heterosexuality or transgender identities because of religious beliefs.
Someone at Your School
Through your high school or university, you may have access to health services that include sexual or intimate well-being, and mental health concerns. They might not be able to give you actual treatment, but they are great at connecting you with the right people to help!
Where would we be without our best friends? They’re great for comparing notes and just venting about whatever’s going on in your life. They are there for you when a giant zit appears in the middle of 3rd period, and when you need advice on what to say to your crush.
Very close, trusted friends can also be an important lifeline when things are tough at home. Or, when a new boyfriend or girlfriend is trying to convince you that you don’t need friends apart from them. Being a good friend and holding onto good friends can be tough sometimes when you’re a teen, but it’s worth it.
Now, when it comes to the advice that Becca’s cousin’s friend-from-camp has about pregnancy or sex…we suggest double-checking their advice. There are a lot of pervasive myths about our bodies out there, and it’s always good to double-check at a trusted source!
Lane Baumeister is an internationally-based Canadian writer with several years’ experience creating educational and entertaining articles that discuss intimate health and sexual well-being. When not waxing profound about menstruation, she devotes herself to enjoying extremely good food and equally bad movies.