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Autism, healthy relationships and sex

Healthy relationships are all about respecting each other.

You should feel loved, safe and free to be yourself.

Relationships can be confusing and it can be difficult to understand what is and isn’t normal behaviour. Disrespectful and unacceptable behaviour can come in many forms. It isn’t limited to just physical behaviour.

For example, it’s not OK for someone to try and pressure you into sending a nude photo, or to expect the same things to happen that they’ve seen in  pornography.

If someone makes you do something you don’t want to, makes you feel scared, intimidated or tries controlling you, it’s not acceptable and is never OK.

Having sex is a big decision.

If you don’t feel comfortable or ready to have sex or do sexual things with someone, then you don’t have to. The person you’re with should care about you enough not to pressure you or make you do something you’re not happy about.

There can be a lot of pressure from things like social media, music videos or porn to have sex, and it might seem like lots of other young people are doing it, or talking about doing it. But this shouldn’t be a reason to start having sex.

Everyone is different, and you should do it because you want to, you feel ready and you’re 16 or over.

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Is your body trying to tell you something?

You are likely to feel a range of feelings in your body.  These might be the result of excitement or anxiety:

  • your heart beating faster
  • sweating more or feeling hot
  • finding it harder to breathe
  • feeling uneasy or tightness in your tummy
  • having a dry throat
  • dizziness or feeling like your head is spinning
  • feeling stiff and tense.

If you feel any of these things when talking about having sex or during sex or sexual activity, it may be that what’s happening isn’t right for you. Tell the other person to stop and talk to them about how you are feeling. And remember, just because you agreed to something at the beginning, you can still change your mind once you have started. If it doesn’t feel right, tell the other person to stop.

However, if you experience some of the feelings listed above and you are enjoying yourself with the other person, these feelings are not because of anxiety and it is normal sexual arousal. As long as you are both enjoying yourselves and consenting, you can carry on.

It is important to use contraception when you have sex. Click on any of the links below to find out more:

How to get help

If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively, you can always contact your school nurse.

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Find out what services are available to you in your area. Remember your school nurse is always there to give you confidential help and support.

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