Sexual health and healthy relationships are important to overall health. Sexual health information covers topics such as avoiding sexually transmitted diseases, having good relationships, and birth control.
Sexual health topics can be hard to talk about. You may come from a society that believes talking to a stranger about sex or healthy relationships is not acceptable. However, in the USA, you can talk to your main doctor (your PCP) about any sexual health problems you have. Your doctor can help you or recommend another kind of health professional who can help.
Here are some ways to educate yourself about sexual health:
- Planned Parenthood is an organization that is dedicated to improving the sexual and reproductive health of people across the country. You can visit one of the many sexual health centers which Planned Parenthoods are across the country. There, you can speak with a medical professional about any sexual health-related questions. You can also visit their website to educate yourself about many sexual health topics.
- Go Ask Alice is a website where people can send in questions related to health issues, including sexual health and relationships. Old answers are collected and published, so you can read through answers to past questions. You can also ask your own.
- The Sexuality Education Resource Centre has a number of resources on sexual health topics written specifically for a refugee audience.
Having a healthy relationships with another person, such as a husband or a wife, can bring a lot of happiness into your life. A relationship can be a source of strength and emotional support during difficult times and it can add to your joy in happy times.
At the Sexuality Education Resource Centre, you can read more about relationships between partners. Planned Parenthood also has information on its website about having a healthy sexual relationship.
When somebody hurts their husband or wife, girlfriend or boyfriend, parent or child, or any other person in their family, that is “domestic violence.”
Signs of domestic violence
Domestic violence can be physical harm, emotional harm, or both. The National Domestic Violence Hotline website says you may be suffering abuse if your partner is:
- telling you that you can never do anything right
- showing jealousy of your friends and time spent away
- keeping you from or discouraging you from seeing friends or family members
- insulting, demeaning or shaming you with put-downs
- controlling every penny spent in the household
- taking your money or refusing to give you money for expenses
- looking at you or acting in ways that scare you
- controlling who you see, where you go, or what you do
- preventing you from making your own decisions
- telling you that you are a bad parent or threatening to harm or take away your children
- preventing you from working or attending school
- destroying your property or threatening to hurt or kill your pets
- intimidating you with guns, knives or other weapons
- pressuring you to have sex when you don’t want to, or to do things sexually you’re not comfortable with
- pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol
What can I do about domestic violence?
- Call the police
If you observe friends who are not in healthy relationships and you think their partner is hurting them, there is help available. If you or someone else is being harmed, or at an immediate risk of being harmed, you can call the police.
- Go to a shelter
A domestic violence shelter is a place where you can temporarily move to if you are trying to leave an abusive partner. If you have to get out of your home quickly in order to stay safe, a domestic violence shelter might be a good option for you. Find a shelter for those experiencing domestic violence.
- Call the hotline
1-800-799-7233 is the phone number of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The phone number is operated 24 hours a day. You can call the hotline for help.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
STDs are sometimes called sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They are infections passed through sexual contact. Practicing safe sex, including using condoms, is one of the most effective ways you can reduce your risk of contracting an STD. If you think you might have a STD, make sure you speak with your doctor so you can get tested.
Three of the most common STDs in the USA are:
- HPV (Human papillomavirus)
Planned Parenthood has information on these and other STDs. At the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service, you can find resources about different STIs, all translated in different languages.
Find legal help, English classes, healthcare, housing support, and more. Search with a map and list of services for immigrants in the USA.
Sexually active women and men who want to have control over when they have children can use birth control (also called contraception) to avoid pregnancy. What birth control option is right for you may depend on a number of many different factors, such as your age, your medical history, and whether or not you want to have children in the future.
Birth control for women comes in many different forms, including a pill, an injection, or a tiny device called an IUD that can be inserted into a woman’s body. Birth control for men comes in many forms such as condoms, abstinence, or vasectomy. Read more about your birth control options.
If you are interested in birth control, you should speak with your doctor for more information. If your doctor is unable to offer assistance, look for a health center where you can get help from qualified doctors and nurses about the right birth control option for you. You can find a community health center on FindHello. Or you can search for a birth control clinic and other birth control services. Another option is to go to a Planned Parenthood clinic near you.