Sexual health concerns can be wide ranging and encompass a number of physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual considerations. You may be concerned about having contracted an STI or becoming pregnant or nervous about sexual performance or relationship communication. Whatever your concern, our trained volunteers are here to listen in confidence and without judgement and can provide information on additional support services, should you need them.
Safer sex is a term relating to strategies that minimise the risk of unwanted consequences of sex, such as transferring HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). While most sex acts involve some element of risk, there are precautions that can be taken to ensure we engage in ‘safer sex’.
Safer sex can be practiced through establishing consent, knowing our boundaries, using condoms, communicating needs, desires and STI status and getting tested for HIV/STIs. Condoms or other barrier methods such as femidoms and dental dams can create a protective barrier for the mouth, genitals and anus from bodily fluids such as semen, pre-cum, vaginal fluids and blood which can transmit disease.
Gay and Bisexual Men: Men who have sex with men (MSM) are in a particularly high risk category for transmitting HIV. This is because anal sex is one of the most risky sex acts for HIV transmission, and this practice is particularly common among MSM. One of the most important safer sex practices is to use a condom, and in anal sex to use plenty of lube. The use of poppers is also quite prevalent amongst MSM and can inhibit decision making. Getting tested for STIs and HIV regularly, and communicating your status with sexual partners is one of the most empowering strategies for safer sex.
Lesbian and Bisexual Women: Women who have sex with women (WSW) are, generally, in a lower risk category for contracting STIs than men who have sex with men (MSM), for example. Because of this, GPs and medical services frequently do not have information relevant to WSW, and WSW can often feel invisible to sexual health services. WSW still require all the usual gynaecological testing that heterosexual women do, such as cervical smear tests. We acknowledge that same-sex attracted women have a wide range of different sexual experiences and desires.
Trans People: Trans people are hugely excluded and misunderstood by mainstream health services generally, and particularly so where sexual health is concerned. Mainstream media has problematically conflated trans identities with sexual fetishism, which has caused many within the trans community to distance themselves from issues of sex. There are widespread misconceptions that having a trans identity might mean a full scale rejection of sexualised body parts. This is the case for some trans people, while other trans people enjoy having sex with their natal genitals. In many cases, a trans person’s body may be incongruent with their gender identity. Trans people who have had genital surgery might have special considerations around sexual health.
LGBT people can get pregnant, so contraceptive use may be an important consideration if you are having sex that puts you at risk of pregnancy and you do not wish to become pregnant. Contraceptive methods can help prevent unwanted pregnancy. Emergency contraception is available in chemists nationwide and can be taken up to 72 or 120 hours after unprotected sex. Visit https://www.ifpa.ie/Sexual-Health-Services/Emergency-Contraception for more information.
Rape & Sexual Assault
LGBT people can experience rape or sexual assault. For support and information related to rape and sexual violence, please ring the National 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline: 1 800 778 888.
Resources: The links in this section will point you in the direction of the most recent sexual health information for LGBT people. These links will help you locate sexual health testing clinics and make informed choices about your sexual health.