Ages 11-13

At this age most young people will be entering puberty and will be interested in hormones, how they will be affected by them, the menstrual cycle, wet dreams, erections, fertility, pregnancy - how it can be avoided, and safer sex. They may also be wondering if their physical development is 'normal'. They will want to know about the difference between sexual attraction and love and whether it is normal to be attracted or in love with someone of the same gender. Young people will be asking questions about relationships, when is the right time to have sex, how to avoid pressure and where they can get more information if they need it, including the best websites, confidential services etc.

Questions to help you understand what young people want to learn about are listed in themes below.

Relationships

  • What makes a relationship happy or unhappy?
  • Why do relationships change during adolescence?
  • How can I cope with changing relationships with my family and friends?
  • Why do people get married or have a civil partnership?
  • What can I do about family and friendship break-up?
  • What are the qualities I should look for in a partner?
  • Should everyone have a boyfriend or girlfriend at my age?
  • At what age is it legal to have sex? At what age is it legal to get married/ or have a civil partnership?
  • How do I know when I am ready to have sex/be intimate with my boyfriend/girlfriend?
  • Do males and females have different expectations in relationships?
  • What does it mean to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender?
  • What is the difference between transvestite and trans-sexual?
  • What is acceptable touching and behaviour amongst my peers?

 

My body

  • Am I normal? What is normal for my age? If I am a late-developer, will I catch up?
  • Why do the media show so many pictures of thin/muscley/perfect celebrities? Should we all look like this?
  • People say our hormones are raging during adolescence - what effect do they have on the body?
  • How do hormones affect boys and girls differently?
  • What is the menstrual cycle and how does it affect fertility?
  • Why do boys get erections?
  • What is the menopause, when does it happen in a woman's life and do men go through it too?
  • What is happening to my body when I get sexually excited?
  • What is an orgasm and how can I have one?
  • Do males and females experience orgasm in the same way?
  • What are normal bodily fluids secreted from penis and vagina?

 

Feelings and attitudes

  • What is the difference between sexual attraction and love?
  • How will I know if I am in love?
  • Is it normal to be attracted or in love with someone of the same gender? Does this mean I am gay or lesbian?
  • Do you have to have sex to show someone you love them?
  • What should I do if I feel I am being pressured into having sex? Is everybody doing it?
  • In my community being a teenage parent is acceptable- is this wrong?
  • My religion says that being gay or having sex before is marriage is wrong, what should I think?

 

Keeping safe and looking after my sexual health

  • What is safer sex?
  • Should everyone who is sexually active carry condoms?
  • What infections can be caught from having sex? What are the symptoms? What is the impact on your health?
  • What is HIV and AIDS, how do you get it? Is it always through sex?
  • How do women get pregnant and how does the baby develop?
  • Does sex always lead to pregnancy? How can conception be prevented?
  • Are there ways of enjoying sex that don't risk pregnancy or infection?
  • What are the different methods of contraception? Are some easier to use than others?
  • When should emergency contraception be used?
  • Who should be responsible for contraception/safer sex in a relationship?
  • If someone is on the pill, why do they have to use a condom as well?
  • Does drinking alcohol or using drugs affect my decisions about behaviour?

 

People who can help me/Sources of help and advice

  • If I think I have a sexually transmitted infection, where can I get it treated?
  • If a woman gets pregnant, what choices does she have?
  • What are the best websites on sex and relationships for young people?
  • How can I find out about local contraception and sexual health services, and what should I expect from them?
  • Can I see a nurse or doctor in private?

 

See questions for other age groups