Sexual health and Teenage pregnancy

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) Sexual Health Promotion Strategy and Action Plan 2008 highlighted the following definition of sexual health:

“A state of physical, emotional, mental and social wellbeing related to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled”

It outlined the key objectives:

  • to enable the population to develop and maintain the knowledge, skills and values necessary for improving sexual health and wellbeing;
  • to promote opportunities to enable young people to make informed choices before engaging in sexual activity, especially, empowering them to delay first intercourse until an appropriate time of their choosing;
  • to reduce the number of unplanned births to teenage mothers;
  • to ensure that all people have access to sexual health services; and
  • to reduce the incidence of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) including HIV.

While acknowledging that sexual-ill health can affect anyone, the strategy recognised inequalities in distribution and identified some groups as particularly vulnerable, including young people under 25 years and especially those who are looked after or leaving care.

Achievability of these targets are particularly dependant on factors outside health and social services as higher rates of teenage pregnancy are linked with poor educational attainment, poor physical and mental health, social isolation and poverty.

The identified priority areas are:

  1. Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE)
  2. Early Childhood and Youth Development Programmes
  3. Contraceptive and  Genito-urinary medicine (GUM) Services
  4. Public Information Programmes
  5. HIV / STI Prevention in High Risk Groups

Priority groups for action relating to HIV / STI are:

  • MSM (Men who have sex with men)
  • People Living with HIV
  • Commercial sex workers

Priority groups for action to reduce teenage pregnancy are:

  • Areas with the 20% highest rates for teenage pregnancy
  • Looked After Children

For further information go to

The Public Health Agency has appointed four organisations to deliver RSE programmes in community settings to young people aged 11-25 years, across Northern Ireland, click below for further information

RSE and community FLIER

GUM Services Map 2016 pdf