The most effective way to avoid getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is to not have sex. If you choose to have sex now and/or in the future, you need to know how to protect yourself and your health, regardless of the sexual orientation you identify with or your gender identity. Remember, STIs can be transmitted between partners no matter the anatomy (sexual and reproductive body parts) of each partner. There is also a risk for pregnancy when one partner has a uterus and ovaries and the other partner is a sperm producer, regardless of each partner's sexual orientation or gender identity. There are different protection methods based on anatomy, whether that be external condoms, internal condoms, or something else. You can get FREE condoms here! Stay tuned as we update TeenSource+ to give you more information on how to reduce your risk for STIs and find the best protection method for you and your sexual/romantic partner(s)! For now, check out Healthline's explainer on barrier methods.
It is important to know how to reduce your risk for pregnancy, regardless of your LGBTQ+ identity. The most important thing to remember is that any time a person who produces sperm has vaginal sex with a person who ovulates, there is a possibility of pregnancy. Learn more about birth control and finding the method that's best for you. You can also learn more about your options through telehealth or at a clinic near you.
Consent + Communication
Consent and communication are essential to any sexual activity, regardless of how you identify, the gender or identity of the partner you have sex with, or the anatomy of you and your partner. Consent and communication are important to making sure all partners feel safe and comfortable and enjoy the experience.
What is consent?
Consent is a voluntary agreement between two sober people to engage in an activity, such as a sexual activity. Consent is never implied and is always clearly communicated. It is about setting boundaries for yourself and respecting your partner and their choices. An easy way to remember the components of consent is the acronym FRIES (Freely given, reversible, informed, enthusiastic, and specific).
How do I communicate with my partner about sex?
Having open, honest, and respectful communication with your partner is important for any healthy relationship, and it’s also important for reducing your risk for STIs and unintended pregnancy. The thought of talking about sex with your partner can be uncomfortable, but as long as you establish open lines of communication from the beginning it will be easier to have conversations about sex. It can be easier to talk about sex if you acknowledge to your partner that it may feel awkward for you, because chances are they might feel awkward too!
The more you talk about sex with your partner, the easier and less awkward it will be. It's important to talk about boundaries, your sexual health (like getting tested for STIs and condom use), what you are and are not ready for, and what you like and don't like. It is important that both partners feel safe and comfortable talking openly and honestly about sex. Check out this resource for examples of ways to start talking with your partner about sex.
Coming out is an ongoing process of understanding, accepting, and valuing your sexual orientation and identity. For many, the first step to coming out is coming out to themselves. The experience can be freeing and allow you to be more openly yourself – but it can also be full of complicated and difficult feelings. Fears about whether or not others will accept you are very common. Learn more about coming out to peers, friends, and family here, or check out the Trevor Project’s Coming Out Handbook for LGBTQ+ Young People.
Remember that you are valid and deserve support no matter how you identify. When you come out and who you come out to is up to you.
Relationships with Family
Developing healthy relationships with your family members can improve things at home while also giving you the kind of support that’s hard to find anywhere else. While talking about sexual health and sexuality can be difficult for all teens, LGBTQ+ teens face additional stigma around their identities and sexual health. However, if you’re in a safe environment, seeking honest advice from a trusted adult – whether it be a parent or different caregiver – can make a world of difference when you’re establishing your sexuality or having “the talk.” Read more advice about starting difficult conversations with adults here.