Sexual Wellbeing

Sexual wellbeing in Greater Manchester

Get help making the right choices to stay safe and healthy with your sexual partners. Learn more about enjoying sex, contraception and STI’s for all ages and orientations.

Sex can be fun and exciting

Sex is an important part of our overall health and wellbeing. A happy, healthy sex life can be fun and exciting, intimate and loving, pleasurable and fulfilling. Most importantly, sex should be enjoyable and safe for everyone involved.

Sex means different things to different people, and there are lots of different ways to explore your sexuality. Your likes and dislikes are as important in sex as they are anywhere else. You should never feel awkward or pressured when it comes to sex. You can say no whenever you want.

The most important part of any relationship is good communication. Talking about your feelings, your interests and your desires is the best way to have a healthy, positive sex life.

Are you under the age of 19? Get tailored sexual wellbeing informationLearn More

Methods of Contraception

Contraception can be used to reduce the risk of an unplanned pregnancy. There is a choice of more than a dozen methods of contraception and most women are able to find a method that is suitable for them. Condoms can be used for protection from sexually transmitted infections as well as pregnancy.

You can get routine methods of contraception including the contraceptive pill from your GP. Sexual and reproductive health clinics offer all methods of contraception.

Learn more about contraception from Sexwise


If you are looking to start a family and are having trouble getting pregnant, it helps to understand the full menstrual cycle, the stages of ovulation and how the reproductive organs work in men and women. There are lots of different things you can try to help improve your fertility and the chances of conceiving.

But if you have been trying to get pregnant for over a year there may be some underlying issues with your fertility or the fertility of your partner. There could be any number of reasons why you’re finding it hard to conceive, but there are several treatments available. Fertility clinics can help you with medicines, IVF, and other options.


If you think you could be pregnant, you’ll need to take a pregnancy test. To make sure it’s accurate, the earliest you can do one is the first day of a missed period (or 21 days after unprotected sex if you don’t have regular periods). You can buy a self-test device from lots of shops and pharmacies. You can get a free test and advice from your GP or from a Sexual and Reproductive Health clinic.

A pregnancy is indicated by a positive result. It’s completely normal to go through a whole range of emotions if this is the case, including happiness, worry, fear and excitement. There’s lots to think about - friends, family and healthcare professionals can help you discuss your options and point you in the right direction.

The benefits of sex

Sex, including hugging, can be really good for you. Studies show that intimate relationships can keep tension and stress levels down, help lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and be beneficial for your overall health and wellbeing!

  • Good for your heart
  • Lower tension with hugs
  • Keep stress away
  • Fight off illness
Male orgasm

During sexual arousal, a man’s penis grows and becomes erect as it fills with blood. If their penis is stimulated – through sexual activity like masturbation or penetration – they can reach an intense feeling of sexual pleasure known as an orgasm. Male orgasms happen when contractions in their pelvic floor push semen – a mix of sperm and fluid - into their urethra and out through the top of their penis (ejaculation or ‘cumming’).

Once contractions start, men cannot stop ejaculation. After an orgasm, men go through a recovery phase before they can have another orgasm, which can last from a few minutes to a few hours (sometimes longer as men get older).

Both men and women can experience difficulties having an orgasm.

Female orgasm

Women have orgasms like men, where their hearts beat faster, their blood pressure increases, and their breathing gets heavier. As they become sexually aroused, their genitals dilate with blood and muscles contract to release sexual tension with an intense pleasurable feeling.

Unlike men, most women do not need a recovery period, and may be able to have more than one orgasm if stimulation continues. Equally, lots of women have and enjoy sex without an orgasm. In order to climax, the majority of women require foreplay and stimulation of their clitoris and other erogenous zones (either by themselves or with a partner). Only some women can achieve an orgasm with penetration alone.

All women and men can struggle at times to reach an orgasm during sex or masturbation.

The truth about penises

A lot of men worry about the size of their penis, when in reality, research suggests they often underestimate their own size and have unrealistic expectations. Although the length of a flaccid penis can vary depending on many different factors, erect penises are much closer in size to each other. Smaller penises will grow more when erect than larger penises.

The truth about penises is that every man is different, and penis size isn’t linked to shoe size, manliness, sexual ability or female satisfaction. They do need to be kept clean and looked after. They’re not actually a muscle, but rather a sponge that fills with blood and causes an erection. And although there is no bone in it, a penis could break if it’s violently twisted or bent when erect.

The truth about vaginas

The vagina has many purposes: to help us enjoy sex, for periods and for childbirth. Every vagina is different – completely individual in fact - and there is no ‘normal’. Some are bigger, some are smaller. Some are lighter in colour, others are darker. Some are oval shaped, some are more cylindrical.

The external organs are known as the vulva, and include the opening to the vagina, the clitoris, and the labia (the inner and outer lips). Some women worry about the size or look of their labia, but again, they vary from woman to woman. Vaginal discharge is completely normal too, and can vary throughout the menstrual cycle. But an unusual colour, smell or itchiness could be a sign of an infection.

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