Sometimes mental health can affect the decisions we make about sex, for example, choosing to have sex when we feel lonely or anxious. Sexual health concerns and diagnoses can also lead us to feel worried, anxious, sad, or even hopeless. Sometimes you might find this worry interfering with your day-to-day life.
If you are feeling any of these things, it is common—and there is help! This page will mostly focus on some of the most common conditions: worry, anxiety, depression, and suicide, and what you can do if you’re experiencing any of them.
You can also check out this resource about sexual health related anxiety that describes and has tips for common concerns people have.
Worry is the uneasy feeling you get when you are concerned about something. It’s normal to experience worry at different times in your life and it is common for people to worry about sexually transmitted infections (STI).
You may be concerned about a sexual contact and your chances of passing on or getting an STI, or you may be anxious about having an STI and how that will affect your health, relationships or sex life. You may worry about the stigma or shame around some STIs. Some people feel more anxious when they step out of their comfort zone such as having sex with a sex worker, having sex with someone other than a regular partner or trying some new sexual activity. Another time that is often difficult for people is waiting for test results once you have been tested.
Worry can be a problem, but it can also be useful. It is often a sign that you are uncomfortable with something that has happened and it gives you a chance to think about what is worrying you and if you want to make changes. Here are some things to consider if you are worried:
- What is your comfort level with different kinds of sex? Everyone deserves to feel comfortable and safe during any kind of sexual activity, which includes deciding your personal level of “risk tolerance”. With time, reflection, and open communication with your partner(s), you can learn what works best for you.
- Do you have good information? There are many conflicting and shaming messages out there about sex and STIs which can cause confusion and worry. Use only trusted sources for health information. Have a look at our Know Your Chances tables for information on your chances of getting or passing an STI with different types of sex.
- Do you have worry in other parts of your life? If you are worried about one thing, it can often lead to worrying about other things. It’s normal to worry from time to time, but if you find that you have worries that are uncontrollable or daily, there may be underlying factors to consider.
- Is it time to talk to a counselor? Sometimes it helps to talk to someone who has experience helping people deal with worry and anxiety. If your feelings are making it hard to get by day-to-day, then it might be helpful to talk to a professional counselor. See the list of services in the resources section below.