Sexual health help for young people

For most people, your teenage and young adult years are when you start to express your sexuality. There’s a lot that goes along with that change, so it’s really useful to know who can help with what.

Key points

  1. Sex can be great! It’s one of the pleasures of life that open up as you mature into adulthood. However, being sexually active comes with responsibilities and a need to look after your sexual health. And sometimes sex isn’t great, so you need to know how to protect yourself and what to do if something not great happens to you.
  2. Young people in New Zealand have a high rate of unplanned pregnancies and STIs. If you don’t want this for yourself, you need to know about how to look after your sexual health.
  3. The first thing to know is that you only have to have the kind of sex you want when you are ready. Learning how to be sexual just with your own body is a great place to start as it can help you find out what you like and what you don't.
  4. Take your time to explore your sexuality and what kind of sexual experiences feel right for you. There's a lot more to sex than penetrative sex. And if you don’t want to have any sex, that’s fine too.
  5. You also need to know about how to manage relationships, safer sex, contraception, pornography, sexually transmissible infections (STIs) including HIV, and what to do if something goes wrong. That’s a lot!
  6. Here are some places that will give you the information and support you need so you can enjoy good sexual health and get support if you need it.

General information, support and advice

The Real Sex Talk Online discussions, articles and videos about sex, gender identity, relationships, consent and more.
Just the Facts This website tells you how to look after your sexual body, keep yourself safe from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and what to do if you catch one.
BodySafe Works with young people to promote respectful relationships and prevent sexual violence.
Family Planning This New Zealand-based website provides up to date information on many sexual health-related topics and answers common questions about contraception.
The Light Project A website to start the conversation and help equip New Zealand youth, their whānau and communities to navigate the new porn landscape.  
Youthline Youthline provides a free, confidential and non-judgemental telephone counselling service and other resources for young people, including about your sexuality, gender identity, sexual health, relationship issues and anything else you want to talk about.
Sexual Health Clinics For sexual health check-ups, including if you think you may have an STI.
Sexwise A sexual health programme for secondary school students. It is a theatre in education programme, consisting of a theatre performance and an interactive workshop.
Healthline Call Healthline free on 0800 611 116 for health advice and information. A trained nurse can give you advice on what to do about any sexual health issue.
Abortion Services in New Zealand A website providing impartial information on the abortion services available throughout New Zealand and how to access them.
New Zealand Herpes Foundation A website providing information and support for people with, or wanting to know more about, herpes simplex.
HPV New Zealand A website providing information and support for people with, or wanting to know more about, genital or oropharyngeal HPV (human papillomavirus).
New Zealand AIDS Foundation A website to answer all of your questions about HIV in New Zealand. Their services include prevention, testing, counselling and support for people living with HIV.

Organisations for LGBTQI+ and sexual identity

Rainbow Youth Rainbow Youth is an Auckland-based organisation that provides information, advocacy and education for queer young people, their friends and whānau.
Ending HIV offers a combination of tools to gay and bi guys to prevent HIV transmissions. It responds to the rising rates of HIV by empowering men with information and inspiring them to take action.
OUTline OUTLine NZ is a national telephone counselling and information support service for the gay, lesbian, transgender, takataapui and bisexual people of New Zealand.
Gender Minorities Aotearoa Gender Minorities Aotearoa is a cross-cultural and transgender-led national organisation. It assists transgender, intersex and takataapui people in having choices about their lives and their bodies, and in getting the things they need for wellbeing. 

Organisations for sexual abuse and abusive situations

Safe to Talk For free, confidential information and support for people affected by sexual harm (sexual violence, rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse) This helpline is staffed by specialists trained in sexual harm support.
Sexual Abuse Prevention Network The Sexual Abuse Prevention Network works with schools, workplaces and community groups to educate and create open dialogues about sexual harm and healthy relationships. 
SAATS-Link A website to find your nearest sexual assault medical service.
TOAH NNEST Te Ohaakii a Hine National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together (TOAH NNEST) is a network of specialist sexual violence response and prevention services across New Zealand.
Women’s Refuge A website providing support and information to help young people identify, escape and shelter from abuse.
Males Survivors of Sexual Abuse An organisation providing support and information to male survivors of sexual abuse.
SHINE Committed to making homes violent free. Provides help and support for men who are violent and want to change their behaviour.

Organisations with a cultural focus

Te Whāriki Takapou A Māori health promotion organisation specialising in kaupapa Maori sexuality education for rangatahi Māori and whānau.
Village Collective Empowering Pasifika youth through sexual and reproductive health education.
Shakti International A website providing culturally competent support services for women, children and families of Asian, African and Middle Eastern origin.

Learn more

The following links provide further information about sexual health for young people. Be aware that websites from other countries may have information that differs from New Zealand recommendations.

Safer sex Family Planning, NZ
Sex Youthline, NZ
Porn use self check The Light Project, NZ
HPV vaccination Just the Facts, NZ

Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.