Sexuality is an integral part of the personality of everyone.
According to Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organisation,the current working definition of sexual health is:
A state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.
The Youth Health Service aims to promote sexual health among young people and is the only one of its kind in Ireland. Why?
Let Toddy Hogan, co-ordinator of the Centre, clear this up.
Hi Toddy! Could you give us more information about the Youth Health Service?
Of course. I start saying that the YHS was set up more than ten years ago in Cork with the key objective of reducing unplanned pregnancy and sexually trasmitted infection. We want to help young people to live their sexual like with freedom and safety at the same time.
What is the support avaible at the YHS?
General advice in relation to sexual health, Crisis Pregnancy Counselling, Post Abortion Medical Check ups and Counselling, STI screening, drugs and alcohol support. Everything is totally free of cost.
Who should have an STI screening?
People who have had unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex with one or more partners and people who have any unusual symptoms including pain when passing urine, unusual discharge from your penis or vagina, irritation in the genital area, pain during sex.
How old are the people who can be supported by the YHS?
YHS provides services to young people aged under 21 but also helps partners/ family members affected by crisis pregnancy. We always offer a service that is confidential, free, easily accessible, relaxed and free from peer and parental disapproval.
Can the confidentiality be guaranteed in all circumstances?
No, it can’t. A member of staff will explain the reasons for this on arrival at the YHS before any personal information is taken. Confidentiality depends on the gravity of the problem and on the age of the person who asks for help.
What is the reason why the YHS focus the attention on very young people?
We believe that Education and Awareness are key factors in the choice of a safe sexual life. Parents tend to avoid taking part in sex education discussions but young people need to know what sex is to be aware of the risks involved in having unprotected sex.
Why should people ask for help to face up their problems?
Problems feel smaller when you share them and finding a solution is always easier.
Toddy Hogan, co-ordinator of the Cork’s Youth Health Service.