Sexual Health FAQs

Have sexual health questions that aren’t answered here? Text TALKTOMEVA to 66746 and a trained health educator will respond within 24 hours!

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  • What are all of my birth control options?
    • The only 100% effective method of birth control is abstinence. If you’re sexually active, here’s a chart that shows all of the birth control methods and how effective they are.
  • Where can I go to get birth control or an STI test?
    • Title X Clinics provide confidential reproductive health services for teens. Title X Clinic Locator
    • Your local health department often provides teen-friendly reproductive health services. You can locate your local health department here.
    • If your local health department does not provide the services you are looking for, here are some other resources you can consider:
      • Family Doctors
        • Your family doctor likely provides reproductive health services, and may even be willing to confidentially discuss questions you have or provide these services to you without discussing them with your parents. If you are concerned about what your provider might tell your parent or guardian, ask them beforehand if they are willing to discuss sexual health with you and, if so, if they’ll keep it confidential.
        • School Nurse
          • While your school nurse might not be able to provide you with contraceptives or an STI test, they can answer your questions and refer to you another provider in the community that can.
        • The Society for Adolescent Medicine has an online tool that can help you find a health professional. You can access it here.
  • How do people get HIV?
    • The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk. The virus can enter the blood through linings in the mouth, anus, penis or vagina or through broken skin. Both men and women can transmit HIV through sharing needles or unprotected sex, and mothers can transmit HIV to their babies through breast milk.
  • How do people get sexually transmitted infections?
    • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are most often spread through unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex. Some STIs don’t have symptoms, so you won’t necessarily know if someone has an STI before you have sex with them. The best way to avoid getting infected with an STI is to practice abstinence or use a barrier method (condoms, diaphragms and dental dams) when engaging in any kind of sexual act.
  • How do I avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections?
    • The only 100% effective method of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections is abstinence. If you are sexually active, there are a number of ways that you can avoid pregnancy and STIs. The best way to prevent STIs is to use a barrier method such as a condom, diaphragm or dental dam. There are many birth control methods that prevent pregnancy, most of which are detailed in the birth control chart above. Keep in mind that condoms are the only methods on that chart that prevent both pregnancy AND STIs.
  • I think I might be pregnant or have an STI. What should I do?
    • If you think you may be pregnant or have an STI, make an appointment to see a doctor as soon as possible. You can refer to the list of teen-friendly sexual health services above to schedule your appointment.
  • Where can I learn more about sexual health and pregnancy/STI prevention?
    • If you have a specific question, text TALKTOMEVA to 66746 and get an answer within 24 hours from a trained health educator!
    • If you want more general information about sexual health, here are some additional websites you can visit:
  • Do I need my parent or guardian’s permission to receive medical care?
    • The legal age for agreeing or consenting to medical services in Virginia is 18 years old. If you are under 18 years old, you can receive the following medical care without your parental/guardian’s permission:
        • Testing and related treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
        • Medical services required for birth control, pregnancy, or family planning (except sterilization/getting tubes tied or vasectomy)
        • Services needed for outpatient care, treatment, or rehabilitation for substance abuse
        • Services needed for outpatient care, treatment, or rehabilitation for mental health.
        • If you are married (or previously married), you can agree to medical or surgical treatment (except sterilization/getting tubes tied, vasectomy, or abortion)
        • If you are pregnant, medical or surgical treatment for you or the child if related to the delivery of the child. After delivery, the law considers the mother an adult for consenting to medical or surgical treatment for her child.
  • Can my parents/guardian access my medical records?
    • Parents can access all medical records except in the following situations:
      • Title X Family Planning Services (birth control)
      • Substance abuse treatment
      • If releasing the record would cause harm to you or another person.
  • Can I get an abortion without my parent/guardian’s permission?
    • In Virginia, the law does not allow minors (under 18 years) to give consent/agree to an abortion without their parent/guardian’s permission.