Sexual health

Let’s talk about Sex-ual Health

Need information, contraception or an STI (aka STD) checkup, but aren’t sure where to start?

Where can you go? How much will it cost? What are your options?

We’re making it easy!

Below is a quick breakdown of your contraceptive options, plus a few medical terms that can be tricky to understand. Talking to a nurse or doctor about what contraception is best for you or your partner is the way to go.

Under that is a guide to the places in Tairāwhiti that can help you with pregnancy and STI tests – and supply contraception, from condoms to the ‘pill’, or ‘rod’.           


While all contraception protect against pregnancy, only condoms protect against most STIs - so if you have a new partner or more than one partner, use a condom as well. And remember – many STI’s do not have symptoms, so both you and your sexual partner might not know if you have one. If you’re sexually active, look after yourself by getting checked regularly and expect others to do so as well.

Did you know? You can get boxes of condoms for free from the Community Clinic and Family Planning just by walking in the door!



What kind of Contraception?



What does it mean?

Contraception/Contraceptive/Birth control

Something that prevents pregnancy


Sexually Transmitted Infection




What is it?

How does it work?



A thin sleeve of rubber that goes on the penis before sex, and gets thrown out after it has been used. Condoms are the best way to help protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections and are easy to get without seeing a nurse/doctor.

May slip off or split if not used correctly or if wrong size or shape

Condoms stop pregnancy by catching sperm, instead of it entering the vagina. Condoms also protect against STIs and can be used for vaginal, oral and anal sex

Oral Contraceptive


aka: The Pill

Contraception taken by mouth, typically known as ‘the pill’.

 Often reduces heavy bleeding and period pain, and sometimes acne. One little pill has to be taken every day, and works best when you take it at the same time each day. If you miss a pill then you are not protected from pregnancy

The pill works by releasing a hormone that tricks your body into thinking it is pregnant. Because of this, your womb does not release an egg, so there is nothing for sperm to fertilise after sex.

Some pills work by thickening the mucus in the cervix to create a barrier for the sperm.




An IUD is a small copper or plastic T shaped device which sits in the uterus (your womb).A copper coil works straight away and lasts for 5-10 years, whilst a hormonal coil works for 3-5 years (but both can be taken out sooner). A small procedure is needed to fit this device which usually takes about 15 minutes


The hormones or copper in the IUD stop the sperm reaching the egg, and also stop the egg attaching to the wall of the uterus.

Depo Provera


aka: The Jab


The Depo Provera is a single injection usually given in the top of your butt cheek, which takes just a few seconds. It lasts for 13 weeks, so you need to get the Depo given every 12 weeks (3 months)

The jab works by releasing a hormone that tricks your body into thinking it is pregnant. Because of this, your womb does not release an egg

The implant


aka : The Rod, Jadelle,

  • The implant is a small flexible rod (about the size of a hairgrip) that is placed under the skin in your arm.
  • A small needle is used to give a local anesthetic which will numb the skin. The implant is then inserted into the numbed part of your arm so there shouldn’t be any pain. This whole process takes just a few minutes and the rod lasts for up to 3 years (but can be taken out sooner)

The rod works by releasing a hormone that tricks your body into thinking it is pregnant. Because of this, your womb does not release an egg.

Emergency Contraceptive Pill - ECP



Aka: The Morning after Pill

If you have had sex without using contraception, or think your contraception might have failed, you can use emergency contraception. It is easy to get from pharmacies without a prescription, however it may be costly (have a look at the orange list below for Gisborne pharmacy ECP prices)

The ECP works by stopping your body from releasing an egg into your womb, or by changing the way sperm moves inside the body, so it is unable to fertilize the egg.


The ECP is effective for up to 72 hours after intercourse, however the sooner you take it the more effective it is.





Doing a STI check can seem intimidating, but it’s so easy! You might feel embarrassed because talking about sex with older people has previously been a weird experience for you – but it doesn’t need to be, the more you do it, the more routine it will become. STI’s are just like any other type of infection; most can be treated with medicine and those that can’t, like Herpes, can be controlled. STI’s and check-up’s have previously caught a bad rep, but getting checked is part of being a sexually active person.


Here’s how it will go down:

  1. Making the appointment

Choose where you would like to go, your usual GP or a sexual health clinic? The details are below to make this easy. Making this decision might involve thinking about cost and location. Call and make an appointment! You do not need parental consent to see a doctor for a check-up, even if you are under 16 (legal age to consent to sex).

Family Planning make this easy by letting you go online and fill out an appointment request, then they contact you back to confirm. They will likely ask what the appointment is for, but this can be kept as simple as ‘contraception information’ or ‘general check-up’.


  1. At the appointment

Just like any other doctor appointment you will wait in a waiting room until the Health Professional is ready to see you, and then they will take you to a smaller, private room. Doctors are under pretty strict requirements to keep everything confidential, but if you have privacy concerns then bring them up.


Then comes the whole actually getting tested thing. There are many different ways to get tested for an STI, and it all depends on what you are getting tested for. Don’t hold back information, you’ve come this far so let the nurse or doctor know what you’re there for – especially if you have symptoms that are worrying you. Talking to your doctor about details, like what type of sex you are having, will help them understand what tests you need.

Lots of people are confused about getting tested for STIs, they think it always involves a physical examination and that can put people off going. But this isn’t always true and doctors usually only want to do a physical examination if you think you have symptoms, such as itching, burning, pain or sore bumps or unusual discharge.


Here in Tairawhiti we have high Chlamydia and Gonorrhea rates, so a general check-up would involve boys collecting a urine sample and girls doing a self-swab (you go to the bathroom and do it yourself with a long cotton bud – so easy). 

Somethings like HIV and Herpes require a blood test.


  1. After the appointment

Once you have done the test, your sample will be sent away and you will have to wait for the results before you know for sure if you have an STI or not. Your doctor should tell you how long this will take (usually around a week), and talk to you about how they will contact you with results; because they have to make sure the details come directly to you. If any of your tests come back positive, the doctor will help you with information on what to do next.

Both Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are treated with antibiotics, which involves either a single-dose treatment or a course over seven days. Your sexual partner/s will need to have treatment too, so you will have to think about safe ways to approach the topic with them and make sure they see a doctor.


The reason getting checked regularly is so important is that many STDs can cause very severe complications if they are not treated. For example, if gonorrhea is not treated it can spread to your joints, skin, and even the retina of your eyes. Girls that get chlamydia or gonorrhea and don't know it, or don't get it treated, can develop serious infections of their reproductive organs that can prevent them from having children. STI’s can be transferred through all sexual acts including oral and fingering, and especially anal sex.

It doesn’t matter with who or what you’re doing, you’re always at risk. So own your sexuality and your health by being smart about sex. 



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