Sexual health and healthy relationships
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.
In many cases, refugees come from conservative cultures. You may feel that talking to a stranger about sexual matters or healthy relationships is not OK. However, in the United States, you can talk to your main doctor (your PCP) about any sexual health problems that you may be experiencing. They may be able to help you directly, or they can recommend another kind of health professional who can help.
Below 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 and happy relationship 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.
When somebody hurts their husband or wife, girlfriend or boyfriend, parent or child, or any other person in their family, that is “domestic violence.”
Domestic violence can be physical harm, emotional harm, or both. Here are some signs that indicate that a person may be experiencing domestic violence. Is your partner:
- Telling you that you can never do anything right
- Showing jealousy of your friends and time spent away
- Keeping you 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
(Source for list:: http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/abuse-defined/)
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.
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 here.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 is a phone number that is operated 24 hours a day. If you are experiencing domestic violence, you can call the hotline for assistance. They will help you to determine your options.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
STDs, sometimes called STIs (sexually transmitted infections) are diseases 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 STI. If you think you might have a STI, make sure you speak with your doctor so you can get tested.
Three of the most common STIs in the US are:
For information on the these and other STIs, you can visit the Planned Parenthood website.
At the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service, you can find resources about different STIs, all translated in different languages.
The website for the Western Australia Department of Health also has a number of translated resources related to STIs.
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.
You can read more on this page about your birth control options.
The Australian Center for Culture, Ethnicity and Health also offers information about contraception options, including these resources translated into a number of languages.
If you are interested in birth control, you should speak with your doctor for more information. If your doctor is unable to offer assistance, then you can find another health center where you can get help from qualified doctors and nurses about the right birth control option for you.
You can find a clinic that can advise you about birth control by putting in your zip code at this page.
Planned Parenthood operates sexual health clinics across the country. You can visit a Planned Parenthood clinic for counseling about birth control as well as any other sexual health needs.